Media is a prominent aspect of our culture as modern Indigenous peoples. The misconception that Indigenous peoples are primordial and stuck in the past, is the product of outdated stereotypical thinking. A critique of mainstream media is its use for assimilation of people into the “Canadian identity.” This happens through private and public broadcasters, as dominant worldviews are projected to mass audiences, leaving little to no room for local Indigenous knowledge’s or community based media production. The views that make it to air are passed by gatekeepers at various levels: from the editors of magazines, to executives of media conglomerates.
Indigenous peoples are appropriating media technology at a rapid rate, just like any other group of people. Last week, one of my aunties put it very succinctly: she told me that she noticed First Nations people are now getting educated, and we are combining our education with our cultures.
With media, we are now able to use our skills to represent our different cultures: skills we learned from Youtube tutorials, skills we’ve learned at college or at university, even skills we learn through volunteering! We’re learning skills from everywhere. We’re even learning about this from our mentors… because now we are seeing more First Nations people rising to prominent positions in film, television, radio broadcasting, podcasting, photography, you name it!
With these new skills, Indigenous people can bring media creation into Indigenous communities, on reserves, to community events. I personally can’t be everywhere at once, but thanks to Facebook Live, I can watch my cousins graduation ceremony and a Resist 150 demonstration at the same time.
What I love about Indigenous media, is the ability to amplify the voices of people who have not only been marginalized, but traditionally not been given the platform to speak freely. We now see Indigenous youth and elders speaking to their communities, and a broader community about topics and issues that are important to them. These conversations can reflect our cultures and perspectives, and are not limiting in the same way that media production once was.
Here to talk about media and Indigenous communities, I’m speaking with Jules Koostachin.