Saturday November 5th was an iconic day, alive with protest. Hordes of people gathered in Toronto and Halifax to show solidarity with the Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.
Daisy Komujuni, a past Arthur writer, attended the Dakota Pipeline Access (DPL) protest in Toronto, and had much to report on the atmosphere of the protest. “It was really peaceful and well-organized, people brought their children and there was a lot of love and solidarity in the air,” Komujuni said. “There was support from local police as well, they assisted in protecting the protesters, which went with the spirit of the protest and what we were trying to achieve.”
I wasn’t made aware of this protest from the news, but rather, through Komujuni’s Snapchat story. There has been a media blackout concerning the DPL protests in the United States.
One only needs to flip to any American news channel to see that the electoral circus of the presidential race has obscured any attention the DPL protests could be receiving. Activism and journalism go hand in hand, and Arthur Newspaper takes pride in the power of focused, student-driven journalism that strives to expose stories no one else is covering.
So far, Volume 51 has explored various campus issues, such as last week’s article on the lack of diversity in courses offered by Trent University, reported passionately by Shanese Steele. The voices of students and community members matter, and as we have mentioned before, being a paper that isn’t endorsed or funded by a corporate entity gives Arthur the freedom to explore certain issues other publications may not cover.
On the 5th of November, a masked man was seen holding a sign that said “Stop Corporate Bailouts”. The activist, who gave me permission to be photographed, told Arthur that he had just come from a protest held in Peterborough for the Million Mask March, held in support of hacktivist group Anonymous. The MMM protests have gathered controversy in the media for the arrests over hundreds of Guy Fawkes mask-wearing protesters in London.
“We approached CHEX TV and other news outlets to help us advertise but we never heard back,” the masked man told Arthur. The Peterborough branch of Million Mask March drew approximately 30 people on Saturday, having so far received no media coverage.
In this issue you will see an article on the DPL protests at Standing Rock reservation, and as editors we could not be more proud that the Arthur staff is passionate about covering deeper issues not highlighted by mainstream media organizations. Arthur is the alternative news source to mass media news, and we only want to further that reputation by reaching out to activists in the community. Arthur is here to give them that voice.
The only way a student newspaper can do this is to hire reporters steeped with the talent and drive to cover news that mainstream journalism is increasingly failing to report on. When asked what it was like being at the protest as a past Arthur reporter, Komujuni commented, “once you become a part of Arthur, it never leaves you. One gets so busy trying to make a life after university, having a job and your own life, but when I went to the protest it felt as though I had never left that activist mindset. It’s like I picked up where I left off.”
As editors who care about diversity and the representation of issues that impact people of colour, we aim to further spread the word on events like Diwali, as in this issue, and Pink Hijab Week, which will be highlighted in our next issue. This year’s Diwali was a successful celebration hosted by the South Asian Association at Trent (SAAT). This event only came together because the Trent community worked diligently at marking an occasion that isn’t recognized in Canada as a statutory holiday.
Holidays celebrated by Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus such as Eid and Diwali bring together an international community of secular and devout folks alike, yet this holiday has no official designation along the lines of conventional, largely secularized occasions like Christmas or Thanksgiving. Who will care about these initiatives enough to recognize them? When the media chooses not to focus on the real issues that are happening around us, that is the most dangerous form of oppression that is almost impossible to fight against.
Take the American elections for example. This is a topic I have personally chosen not to give any attention to. The sensationalization of Clinton and Trump is entirely a distraction from crucial international news, such as the current struggle in North Dakota. The DPL protests have not been brought up once during the debates. This is indicative of a dangerous level of calculated ignorance within candidate platforms.
The pipeline issue can be traced back to people who hold the power to make decisions on our lands and our rights. Even if the DPL was a topic of discussion between presidential candidates, how much good could come of it? The pipeline is President Barack Obama’s project. Indigenous people of the Sioux Reservation have had enough. They are being shot at and tear gassed because they will not let their land be robbed and desecrated for a pipeline. Obama was supposed to be the president who ran on the promise of change, but in the end is silent in the face of injustice.
Many Canadians have speculated that what is happening in the States is only a foreshadowing of what will happen here. A CBC article by Anjuli Patil on the DPL protests that took place in Halifax discusses the parallels between Nova Scotia and the North Dakota. Gordon Downie publicly put pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to make good on his promises to mend relations with First Nations during a Tragically Hip concert in Kingston on August 20th.
With Trudeau’s support of the Keystone XL Pipeline, an pipe extension that Obama and Clinton did not support, it is clear that Downie’s optimism for Trudeau being a champion of environmental and Indigenous issues has, so far, not proven true.
Whatever the future holds, you can count on Arthur Newspaper to report on the facts that other media outlets will not.