The Greatest Media Failure of the Century: Reporting on Aboriginal Issues

The Greatest Media Failure of the Century: Reporting on Aboriginal Issues
October 15, 2008, Toronto

 

View a video of the event

Photos from top: Our panelists Kimberly Murray, Peter Edwards, Dan Smith and moderator Sally Armstrong; Sally takes questions from the audience; Guest Daryl Doxtator addresses the panel; Panelist Kimberly discusses language use in reporting on Aboriginal issues; Audience members take note. Photos by Andrew Hind

Reporting on Aboriginal Issues panel

Sally Armstrong at the Podium

Daryl Doxtator

Kimberly Murray

Guests

 

"We are sorry."

The infamous words offered by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in response to the government's mishandling of the residential schools system might also have come from the media – and the apology would not have been limited to a single event. There's a lot to be sorry about, if not perplexed by, in how aboriginal issues have been covered by the mainstream media over the last 100 years. There have been some excellent special reports, stunning revelations and no shortage of accusations on the media's part. So why does coverage invariably stop after a flurry of reports on a single issue? Where's the follow-up, the demand for accountability and sustainable change?

Our expert panel takes on the sensitive topic of reporting on aboriginal issues, which not only has relevance but also threatens headlines of a much more severe nature if the issue continues to be marginalized.

WHO:

  • Panelists:
    • Kimberly Murray, executive director of Aboriginal Legal Services Toronto
    • Dan Smith, book editor at the Toronto Star and author of The Seventh Fire: The Struggle for Aboriginal Government
    • Peter Edwards, Toronto Star reporter who was honoured with an eagle feather from the Union of Ontario Indians and a gold medal from the Human Rights and Race Relations Centre for his coverage of Ipperwash
  • Moderator:
    • Sally Armstrong, award-winning journalist and documentary filmmaker

WHERE: Robert Gill Theatre, University of Toronto, 214 College Street
Located at the NW corner of College and St. George in the Koffler Student Centre. Please use the St. George entrance to third floor.

WHEN: Wednesday, October 15, 2008. Presentation 6:30-8:00
 

Panelists:

Kimberly Murray
Kimberly Murray is a Citizen of Kahnesatake Mohawk Nation and the executive director of Aboriginal Legal Services Toronto (ALST). She has acted as counsel or co-counsel on 12 Coroner Inquests, was instructing counsel for ALST at the Ipperwash Inquiry and was counsel for ALST at the Frank Paul Inquiry in British Columbia. Kimberly has represented numerous individuals with Ontario and Canadian human rights matters. Her human rights practice is largely focused on protecting the rights of Aboriginal people while being detained by police officers and/or incarcerated in provincial or federal jails.

Dan Smith
Dan Smith is the book editor at the Toronto Star. A career newspaper journalist, born and raised in Winnipeg, Dan covered the aboriginal aspects of the federal-provincial constitutional reform process from beginning to end. He was the third recipient of the Atkinson Fellowship on Public Policy, which led to his 1993 book, The Seventh Fire: The Struggle for Aboriginal Government (Key Porter).

Peter Edwards
Toronto Star reporter Peter Edwards, along with Harold Levy, wrote more than 500 articles on the 1995 shooting of native activist Anthony (Dudley) George outside Ipperwash Provincial Park. Peter was honoured with an eagle feather from the Union of Ontario Indians and a gold medal from the Human Rights and Race Relations Centre for his coverage of the Ipperwash story. He is also the author of One Dead Indian: The Premier, the Police and the Ipperwash Crisis, and was a consultant for the movie One Dead Indian, for the CTV and the Aboriginal Peoples Television networks, which won three Gemini Awards.

 

Moderator:

Sally Armstrong
Human rights activist, documentary filmmaker, journalist, and award-winning author, Sally Armstrong is the author of Veiled Threat: The Hidden Power of the Women of Afghanistan, and co-producer and host of several documentaries, including Daughters of Afghanistan. She is a member of the Order of Canada and has been the recipient of numerous journalism and humanitarian awards, including two Amnesty International Media Awards. Her latest book, Bitter Roots, Tender Shoots: The Uncertain Fate of Afghanistan's Women will be on bookshelves November 2008.