Need a national inquiry – NOW!

When there is a federal government that can ignore the reality of almost 1200 missing and murdered Indigenous women, we are in deep trouble as a ‘civilization’.

It is in response to this national crisis that The Sacred Water Circle; the Kawartha Truth and Reconciliation Support Group, KTRSG; Nibi Emosaawdimojig (“Those Who Walk for the Water”); and the Peterborough and Kawarthas chapter of the Council of Canadians are demanding a national inquiry.

a) Despite being only 4.3% of the national population, a heavily disproportionate number of Indigenous women have gone missing or been murdered

b) According to Statistics Canada, Indigenous women are seven times more likely to be murdered than non-Indigenous women

c) Even the RCMP has acknowledged a total of nearly 1200 Indigenous cases over the past 30 years, continuing over the past year.

This is a horrendous series of events that would not likely be tolerated if it was occurring within the mainstream population. So far, the federal government has not recognized this national crisis.

Popular momentum for such a national inquiry has been building. There is a need to understand the root causes and develop a badly needed action plan, as First Nations National Chief, Perry Bellegarde, has stated. Canada should be a land of justice with a federal government that makes the protection of all people a priority; however it has failed so far to acknowledge the national crisis. On February 27, there was an opportunity to do so as families of missing and murdered Indigenous women were in Ottawa to meet Indigenous organizations and the provincial and territorial Premiers. The federal government should exhibit both compassion and leadership by announcing a national inquiry.

Sincerely,
The Sacred Water Circle; The Kawartha Truth and Reconciliation Support Group, KTRSG; Nibi Emosaawdimojig – Those Who Walk for the Water; and Council of Canadians, Peterborough and Kawarthas

The Power of the Front Cover

What has been on the cover of Arthur Newspaper this year? A bunch of buildings, furniture, and white people.

The front cover is a powerful space, and in general the paper’s contents is a reflection of different powers, privileges, and perspectives. The representation of people of marginalized groups in the media is a problem in general, but as a progressive newspaper with an anti-oppression mandate, Arthur should know better.

I mean, Arthur couldn’t even get it right for Black History Month. In Issue 17 (the Self Love issue) a tub selfie made the cover instead of two other more cover-worthy stories. One option was the local art campaign picturing Indigenous women called “Unmask the Silence” about missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. The other was an article for a campaign on campus called “Africa is Not a Country.” The picture that accompanied that article would have made a great front page cover representing both self-love and black history month. As a past editor, that picture was an obvious front cover to me. (If you don’t put the picture next to the article, the picture in question is of a black woman proudly draping herself in the flag of the country she was born.) So why didn’t the editors think so?

This isn’t an isolated issue. In issue 11, the cover was just a large text joke about Chartwells. Inside that newspaper was a story about the Trans Day of Remembrance in Peterborough, pictures of Afrobana (a night of entertainment ran by the Trent African and Caribbean Student Association), Simon Semchuk’s story about statelessness and racism, and Renzo Costa’s story on the inclusiveness of varsity sports at Trent and the lack of international students on varsity teams. Issue 12 had a picture of a cat on the front cover instead of the story about the desecration of the tipi on the east bank.

In Issue 10, the Trent Slut Walk made the front cover but the article about the event failed to mention the significant contributions of the TCSA Women’s Commissioner Betty Wondimu. In fact, later on the cover of Issue 14 is Trent Men’s Hockey team instead of the story of Betty Wondimu addressing Premier Kathleen Wynne about sexual assaults and harassment on small university campuses across Ontario.

These were all issues worthy of the front page, but somehow didn’t strike Arthur as cover-worthy. Don’t even get me started on the cover of Issue Zero being an Arthur editor selfie – C’mon!  Aside from issues of representation of marginalized groups on the front cover, whether it is a picture or a news story, Arthur has an issue in its choice of content.

Issue 16’s cover was a picture for a story about divesting from fossil fuels; this might have been the right cover for the newspaper, but the bigger story that week was the TCSA President trying to remove the anti-racism commissioner position and remove the decision-making power of the other equity commissioner positions. And Arthur failed to make a story of it. The motion was mentioned very briefly in two articles but did not receive any special attention in terms of a headline or a story dedicated to the removal of the anti-racism commissioner position. Arthur did not hesitate to sensationalize the story about Braden Freer’s conservative takeover of the TCSA, but avoided calling attention to this race issue.

All in all, I’m not surprised but I think it’s important to call to attention implicit biases and how they affect representation of marginalized groups in the media. What’s news to white men will be different than what’s news to men and women of marginalized groups.

But at least try and put some colour on the front page, please.

-Sara (Ostrowska) Shahsavari