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Leanne Simpson: How the media got it wrong on Idle No More

Filed Under: Canada | Opinion
More on: leanne simpson, media, racism, stereotypes

Leanne Simpson on the mainstream media's coverage of the Idle No More movement:
With the intention of correcting the misconceptions spread through mainstream media about Chief Spence’s strike, I wrote a piece in mid-January for the blog dividednomore ( to explain the cultural significance of Chief Spence’s fast. The title of the post was “Fish Broth & Fasting,” and it was well received by the readership of that blog. A few days later, the Huffington Post contacted me and asked to re-post it. I felt conflicted. On the one hand, I knew this offer presented an opportunity to reach a large Canadian audience not accessible to me with the original post. But on the other hand, I knew Huffington Post allows a substantial amount of racist comments on its site, and I suspected it would sensationalize my article’s title. Finally, after lengthy discussions among friends in the Idle No More movement, we agreed the benefits of reaching a larger audience outweighed the risks of sensationalism and racist comments. So I gave the Post permission to run my piece on their site.

Their new title for my piece? “Think Chief Spence Is on a 'Liquid Diet'? I Think You're Ignorant.”

The title was written by a HuffPost blog editor and published without my permission. Apparently, the article had to be in the realm of accusation rather than respectful dialogue for consumption in the mainstream media. Herein lies one of the challenges with the media representation of the Idle No More movement—Indigenous Peoples have little agency to represent themselves within mainstream media, which has boxed our peoples inside the confines of the same recycled stereotypes it insists upon invoking.

Get the Story:
Leanne Simpson: Idle No More: Where the Mainstream Media Went Wrong (The Dominion 2/27)

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