Jan. 18, 2013: Maurice Switzer & Idle No More media strategies; on the scene at Wednesday’s Unity Walk to Ambassador Bridge

Click image for more on OPIRG Windsor

Click image for more on OPIRG Windsor

‘On this program I am influenced by thinkers who teach, fight, and agitate for a just and inclusive world. The program is an attempt to help create a dialogue leading to such change and as such is not intended as a journalistic endeavour but as a counter-weight to the propaganda model of the media that is all around us. The views expressed on this program are mine and my guests’ and do not necessarily reflect the views of CJAM or even OPIRG Windsor.’

Listen to entire program here:

I spoke with Maurice Switzer, Editor of the Anishinabek News, and Director of Communications with the Union of Ontario Indians.

 The Anishinabek Nation established the Union of Ontario Indians (UOI) as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate and secretariat to 40 member First Nations across Ontario. The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.

Click image for more information on the Anishinabek Nation

Click image for more information on the Anishinabek Nation

The Anishinabek Nation territory encompasses First Nations along the north shore of Lake Nipigon, the north shore of Lake Huron, Manitoulin Island, east to the Ottawa River valley, and through the south central part of Ontario to the Chippewas of Aamjiwnaang First Nation.

Tribal groups represented within the Nation include Odawa, Ojibway, Pottawatomi, Delaware, Chippewa, Algonquin and Mississauga.  The 55,000 citizens of the Anishinabek Nation represent about one-third of the total First Nation population in Ontario.”

 I mention all this by way of introduction but also for us to consider that this political, social and cultural entity – the Anishinabek nation territory– is where we all live. But non First Nations people have other political divisions that we manage: the province and various counties, districts, and municipalities imposed a long time ago.  Thinking of it should make us wonder about how this country came to be and about the peoples we’ve made invisible.

I first met Maurice Switzer a few years ago when I was in Communication Studies at Laurentian University. He taught a class on minorities in the media and the focus was on First Nations people. With Idle No More and Chief Theresa Spence holding the attention of the corporate media, disturbing reports are surfacing about online comments that are racist, abusive, inciteful, and anonymous – not a good combination.

Anonymous comments have long been a source of debate and when an issue like Idle No More rises and challenges our perception of ourselves it doesn’t always bring out the best in us – in fact, the opposite. In Thunder Bay, On., a First Nations woman was raped and police there are investigating whether that assault is a hate crime because of what the attackers said to the victim.  Maurice Switzer  commented on this issue as well as on how First Nation activists can better strategize media engagement.

Our  conversation began with the Dec. 27th rape of  a First Nations woman in Thunder Bay:

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Click image for more info.

Click image for more info.

On Wednesday, January 16th, about 1000 members of 7 First Nations in Southwestern Ontario and their allies made themselves VERY visible during a march along Huron Church to the Ambassador Bridge plaza.

The event was organized by the London District Chiefs Council and allies.  Many speakers made impassioned comments and here is but a sampling of day:

Some photos of the day:

Moving south along Huron Church (Photo: Paul Chislett)

Moving south along Huron Church (Photo: Paul Chislett)

Approaching bridge plaza (Photo: Paul Chislett)

Approaching bridge plaza (Photo: Paul Chislett)

Flags of nations with Mona Stonefish just left of centre (Photo: Paul Chislett)

Flags of nations with Mona Stonefish just left of centre (Photo: Paul Chislett)

High energy and emotional gathering at bridge plaza after speakers. (Photo: Paul Chislett)

High energy and emotional gathering at bridge plaza after speakers. (Photo: Paul Chislett)

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Featured CD is, again, Detroit’s Rodriguez recorded in that city in 1969:

Click image for more on this fantastic Detroit artist

Click image for more on this fantastic Detroit artist

Sample track  played on air: “I Wonder”: 

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