In solidarity with Wet’suwet’en

Recent tensions concerning the Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C. have been thoroughly discussed on social media, with solidarity protests happening all over the country—from Saskatechewan, to Ontario, to Quebec.

Reports from the CBC state that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) enforced a court order against the Indigenous communities blocking construction on the Coastal GasLink pipeline last Thursday. Camps were set up near the pipeline, including at the Unist’ot’en healing village, which was a Wet’suwet’en-operated checkpoint on the road in 2009, preventing people working on the pipeline from accessing the territory.

Media coverage of the ongoing issue has varied, with some publications learning from past mistakes and putting the work in to accurately reporting on a complex situation. Despite these steps, The Concordian can’t help but notice that this progress is taking far too long. As members of the media, we have a responsibility to not phone in stories on this topic.

Some still don’t even know about the issue, nor the history behind it if they haven’t stumbled upon vigils, protests, or if they aren’t following Instagram accounts addressing the recurring problem. Facebook instates a “Standing in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en” profile picture frame to get people involved, and encourage them to further educate themselves.

The RCMP is forcibly removing people trying to guard land they never ceded to begin with. Does this ring any bells for anyone? How can Canada, or more specifically, the Liberal Government, claim to be moving forward with Truth and Reconciliation when they are consistently participating in colonialism and land theft?

The media should be doing more to call attention to this. The Via Rail train cancellations are being covered thoroughly, but the reason for them? Not so much. The media is covering the inconvenience that protests are causing privileged individuals, but not adequately educating the public on why the protests are taking place.

Wet’suwet’en land is being stolen and used for something its custodians don’t believe in.

This has been happening across North America for centuries––but we’re supposed to be correcting those mistakes. We’re supposed to be righting those wrongs. Remaining silent in times like these upholds and reinforces centuries of colonialism.

We need to do better. 


Graphic by@sundaeghost


Be an Indigenous accomplice, not an ally

Understanding the best practices of Indigenous solidarity, the impacts it can have, and the role the media plays.

The Concordia Centre for Gender Advocacy hosted a workshop on Nov. 6, focusing on better ways to be an Indigenous ally, which involve breaking the rules of Canada’s colonial system and respecting Indigenous leadership, as Indigenous people are the ones most affected by colonization.

The workshop was called Indigenous Solidarity Best Practices, and it was presented by Iako’tsi:rareh Amanda Lickers. She is Seneca, an Indigenous nation that is historically part of the Iroquois League.

“The most radical allyship would be giving back the land,” said Lickers. “Move from being sympathetic to doing something. Be useful, interrupt the colonial narrative and push back against colonial social norms.”

Lickers believes one of the ways to support Indigenous people is to donate a yearly amount of money – small or large – to Indigenous organizations and communities. She frames it as a kind of rent, as non-Indigenous people are able to live and create families in Canada because of Indigenous displacement.

She used the phrase, ‘accomplices, not allies,’ which is the name of an online zine that focuses on removing the ally complex, which refers to people that wish to ‘save’ marginalized people, or use them to advance their own goals. The zine calls for people to be accomplices instead of allies, to actively disobey colonial structures in support of marginalized groups.

Lickers says the best way for people to understand how colonization affects day-to-day life is education. People need to be active in learning about how colonization came to be and to use sources that are corroborated by Indigenous groups.

“Media can shape public opinion, it can shape popular education,” said Lickers, explaining the important role traditional media plays in influencing public belief; that media prioritizes certain voices over others, and it selects what parts to tell. There are few stories of thriving Indigenous people.

“If it bleeds it leads,” said Lickers, explaining that violence attracts readers, and mainstream media picks stories that fall into their editorial narrative. “There are certain types of reporting that glamorize poverty and violence, but it doesn’t discuss the everyday racism that Indigenous people face.”

Marisela Amador is a non-Indigenous alumnus from the Concordia journalism program. Now Amador works at the Eastern Door, a newspaper that reports on the Kahnawake Indigenous community, on the south shore of Montreal.

Amador agrees with Lickers’ view that mainstream media exploits Indigenous issues.

“White media comes here and it sensationalizes everything, and it shows a perspective that is not accurate,” said Amador. “Once the media have gotten what they need, that’s it, they leave.”

Amador explained that the Kahnawake community does not feel like ‘white’ media is an ally and that it is a common thing for people in Kahnawake to feel alienated.

“It’s not that people here don’t want to talk,” said Amador. “It’s just that nothing good comes from it.”

Amador feels like the strict deadlines and word counts mean important background information on Indigenous issues is left out in mainstream media, leading people to be misinformed.

She wishes that there would be more time and room to fit information when she’s reporting, but because of tight deadlines, Amador just has to do her best.

Amador believes the best way to have more Indigenous content in mainstream media is to have more Indigenous reporters.

Samantha Stevens is a non-Indigenous Concordia student doing her masters on the ‘white saviour trope’ in newspaper coverage on Indigenous issues. She noticed in her research that mainstream media has improved from blatant racism, but this has now been replaced with a more subtle form of racism.

These forms of racism include how media usually portrays Indigenous people as poor, and Stevens noticed that when Indigenous people are jobless, it is common for the media to refer to them as being on welfare.

“Quotes are a huge problem. The same person is quoted all the time,” said Stevens, explaining that this enforces stereotypes that all Indigenous people have the same issues, and leaves out other voices in the community.

She believes most journalists don’t even notice what they are doing, as it is so ingrained in Canadian culture. According to Stevens, the only way to see more accurate reporting is for non-Indigenous writers to make space for Indigenous people to tell their own reality and stories.

Lickers believes that non-Indigenous reporters need to support Indigenous voices in the media, to facilitate and collaborate in a way that gives visibility to Indigenous reporters.

“Honestly, I think we are going to have to change the style of news if we want more Indigenous representation,” Lickers said.


Graphic by @sundaeghost

Student Life

Filmmaking meets anti-colonial education

Le Frigo Vert’s Anti-Colonial Feast expands into a week-long series of panels, workshops and screenings

Le Frigo Vert returns this year with its Anti-Colonial Feast. This time, they’re partnering with Cinema Politica to include the art of filmmaking in anti-colonial education. The events are also presented with QPIRG Concordia, People’s Potato and Midnight Kitchen.

“Because we’re a health-food store with a focus on environmental issues, we really try to make it clear that we feel that social justice and environmental organizing should be rooted in Indigenous solidarity,” said Hunter Cubitt-Cooke, an employee and organizer at Le Frigo Vert. “It’s often never mentioned when we talk about the environment or social issues. For us, that’s what we’re trying to get people to think about, and be involved in.”

“[The feast] is co-organized with QPIRG, Cinema Politica and Midnight Kitchen, and they all have different networks,” Cubitt-Cooke said. He praised the broader audience they will hopefully be reaching this year, thanks to the diverse networks from each organization involved. “The main goal is education for students and people who might not be involved in Indigenous solidarity.”

Le Frigo Vert hopes to expand their outreach in order to spread the importance of Indigenous solidarity and history. This year, instead of a one-night event, a series of events revolving around Indigenous solidarity and education will take place from Nov. 20 to 26.

Upcoming events:

On Nov. 20, Michelle Wouters will give an Introduction to Indigenous Solidarity & History workshop at QPIRG Concordia on 2100 Guy St., Suite 205, from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Wouters is a Sixties Scoop and breast cancer survivor who was adopted by white Europeans and came to Montreal in 1990. She studied humanistic studies at McGill University, and graduated the day after the Quebec referendum of 1995.

A three-hour panel on Indigenous People and Criminalization will take place in Le Frigo Vert on 1440 Mackay St. on Nov. 21, and will begin at 5:30 p.m. Speakers will include Sheri Planteau, an Indigenous mother from Winnipeg residing in Montreal, who was incarcerated for 15 years, and Vicki Chartrand, a Bishops University professor whose focus is on incarceration, criminalization and imprisonment as a colonial institution.

On Thursday, Nov. 22, the Native Friendship Centre will open its doors for the Anti-Colonial Feast. Before digging into the food, there will be a screening of RECLAMATION by Thirza Cuthand. This collaboration is part of The Next 150: Documentary Futurism, a project started by Cinema Politica aimed to share radical and independent documentaries. Although the food is free, the event itself is a fundraiser for the Native Friendship Centre and the Kanehsatà:ke Longhouse land defense fund.On Monday Nov. 26, Cinema Politica Concordia will conclude the Anti-Colonial Week events with the Canadian premiere of First Daughter and the Black Snake. Following the film, protagonist Winona LaDuke and director Keri Pickett will join the audience for a Q&A.

Feature film still from RECLAMATION, directed by Thirza Cuthand

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