Every year on June 21, Canadians recognize the cultures, histories, and ongoing contributions of our First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people. For 20 years, National Aboriginal Day has brought a country-wide focus to Canada’s diverse Indigenous peoples and the issues that they face.
At MediaSmarts, we recognize the unique and systemic challenges that Indigenous people face in the digital and media landscape. There have been many challenges in the media with negative and misleading portrayals of individuals and groups, as well as disproportionate coverage of news and events in and for Aboriginal communities. Many media organizations and programs are including more Indigenous voices, telling their stories and featuring news from Aboriginal communities.
This past year, we were able to translate our Think Before You Share tip sheets into Ojibwe, Cree, and Inuktitut, thanks to our outstanding partner Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN). We are grateful for the opportunity to reach more Canadians than ever with these resources.
Addressing and improving systemic barriers is not easy. Education and awareness is an important component to learning and growing for all Canadians. Many education programs, such as Alberta’s Aboriginal Studies, is a great way to equip students with the history and awareness to challenge existing inequities and work towards a better future. When given an opportunity, youth can be ambassadors for change – such as with the 4Rs Youth Movement. Part of our work is to educate youth to learn, think critically, and feel empowered to make change in their communities, the media, and online.
This National Aboriginal Day, we encourage you to celebrate Canada’s Aboriginal peoples, and to work towards a more equitable digital and media landscape.