The Reconciliation and the Media Committee, based in Saskatoon, hosted this one-day conference Oct. 4-5, 2016. It was held in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 Calls to Action, in particular their Media and Reconciliation calls #84, 85, and 86, released in June 2015.

Purpose

The intent of the conference is to change news coverage of Indigenous issues, with the following resolutions:

  • that media report with greater sensitivity to Indigenous people;
  • that attendees take seriously the impact of residential schools;
  • that media professionals commit to initiate real change processes in their organizations;
  • that we create a community of “reconcilers” by bringing together Indigenous and non-Indigenous media.

Follow-up

It is our hope that this gathering will be a catalyst for an ongoing process of change, and that a lasting network will emerge among participants.

As well, the experiences and ideas gathered at this conference will be written up and circulated to newsrooms throughout the province, and made available for the public on the web, accompanied by a Toolkit on Reporting on Indigenous Communities in Saskatchewan. We hope these resources will be helpful for sparking conversations and action on Reconciliation and the Media.

How it came about

The first event relating to this topic was a 'Decolonizing Media' town hall discussion and media fair, hosted by the University of Regina School of Journalism, Nov. 5, 2015. Some 100 members of the public came out to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Regina to talk about how Saskatchewan’s news media cover Indigenous issues. The discussion was led by a panel of 11 Indigenous journalists. After the successful evening, panelists and audience members alike expressed the need for a follow-up gathering, and suggested Saskatoon as the location.

In January, a working committee was formed, comprised of Indigenous and non-Indigenous journalists, the Office of the Treaty Commissioner, various community groups, journalism organizations, INCA, and the School of Journalism. Based in Saskatoon, the committee continues to grow as new organizational partnerships are formed. The group decided to frame its work around the TRC Calls to Action, with an ultimate goal of forging a new relationship between the media an Indigenous people in Saskatchewan. For many years, this relationship has been defined by colonialism, mistrust, and lack of knowledge/understanding among media decision-makers.

The committee recognized that a deeper process of relationship-building and education must be undertaken over the months leading up to the gathering, and that there be continued follow up afterwards.

In April 2016 the group learned from Eugene Arcand, TRC Survivor Committee member, then undertook a goal-setting session led by Winston McLean of Iron Wolf Consulting. From that session, the committee’s lead goals were identified.

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