My name’s Dylan. I asked to do the Dawson Daily News stop just because this site, , it’s quite personal to me. I come from like a press-based family. my father was lucky enough to be that generation of people who became a paperboy at 15, and 30 years later he now is the publisher and editor of about three or four different newspapers in Alberta. And then with that I obviously started as a paperboy, I spent high school working in printing presses. So I’ve always had this very tangible sort of relationship with print media. And with that sort of came an innate respect and trust for what you read and what you see in the news.
I was also growing up at the time as, you know, the internet’s evolving and there’s a 24-hour news cycle. There was just so much content coming out at you. And you were given these ideas of media literacy, you have to critically analyze everything that you see in front of you. You were able to dissect prejudice and bias. But I was never really given the tools to hear the voices that weren’t being spoken for.
There’s the idea of racism through omission. By its very nature it just wasn’t there for, for me to analyze. As I spent, I spent this week agonizing over this stuff, and I wanted to speak to how media’s evolved. I was going to have you know a paper from 1900, and it’d be overtly racist, and it would have one from 2017 so media representation of how indigenous people are being represented. And then we’d all contrast and compare and see how far we’ve come.
But it came out to be a bit trickier than that. ‘Cause especially once you start looking for the voices that aren’t there and the stories that aren’t being written, there’s been very little change in the historiccompared to the contemporary media narrative. Typically representation of indigenous people is done by non-indigenous people, and that’s how you end up with racial stereotypes. Like you know you have your Tonto’s, or a bunch of white guys sitting around thinking Chief Wahoo is a completely appropriate media symbol for the Cleveland Indians. Or that horrendous movie with, Adam Sandler that was on Netflix last year. It’s these stereotypes that are just based off of tropes and this image that you have banged into your head through media.
Chief Isaac, he had a pretty powerful understanding of media and how it worked. He understood that he had to insert his own voice and his own words into the news. If you compare stories in the Dawson Daily News that have his words directly in them, compared to ones that are written by the staff here, you can contrast the messaging, and the portrayal. And the difference in the stories, it generally just always comes through the inclusion or lack thereof of that indigenous voice.
The problem with media these days it’s mostly it’s that covert racism of language and imagery can just disguise so many actions. Sort of not unlike the attitude of the benevolent settler coming in with a beautiful word like “education” and using that to take your kids away. The language reads as one thing but then you have actions and attitudes that are completely portrayed differently.
And it’s only getting more elusive. Now as authors of media you have this idea that you know we’re enlightened, we’re better now, we understand the issues, our generation informed and reformed. And it’s insane. Last month’s whole dialogue on cultural appropriation, “It’s not a problem, it’s a literary right that we have. It’s not paternalistic, it’s not colonizing, we’re better now. And actually the solution to there being a lack of cultural plurality in the media is probably just to let white people right different people’s voices.” Makes sense right?
Like I said, I agonized over this all week long, and it got harder and harder as I was coming to the conclusion that the lack of indigenous voice in the media is inherently racist. And then I come to that conclusion and I have to speak to it as a white guy up in front of a predominantly white crowd. But I suppose that was the point of the walk. The walk is looking at those truths, those hard truths, and my own hard truths, and using that as a way towards reconciliation.
Reconciliation by definition requires all parties to be involved; it requires all voices to be heard; it requires all those voices to be equal. Thank you.