Trying to Understand the Role of Media with our First Peoples

Reviving a Lost Language of Canada Through Film

On the “Canada Press,” a free app which curates Canadian news stories 24/7, an article was written by Catherine Porter which tells the personal story of Hiellen. A Heida older woman who for the first time in her life is now allowed to speak her traditional Haida language publicly without the fear of being punished by the Federal Government. The story explains how the Residential Schools took over 150,000 Native children away from their parents and forced to “learn” western culture. These schools nearly brought 60 different languages within Canada to the brink of extinction.

However, what really caught my attention with this story was how film media, as I had discussed in class this past week, can be a force of good. A large portion of the article explores Hiellen’s personal story and the incredible harm that the Residential Schools had on the survivability of their traditional language. This article showed me that media doesn’t always need to be negative because the Haida have just produced Canada’s first Haida-Language featured film, “Edge of the Knife.” In preparing for the film Hiellen was re-learning how to speak her traditional language.

Semiahmoo People

I enjoy walking along the shoreline searching for the next sunset. I would meet up with friends to watch the sunset and take photos and that is where my story begins. Two weeks ago I was in Drayton Harbour / Semiahmoo Point, USA and just before the sunset we found a man who was there for the same reason. Over the span of an hour he told us the several stories of how the Semiahmoo People used to live on these lands and this particular location was their most sacred burial ground. He comes to this location every night because when the sunsets are the best he can feel the presence of his ancestors walking along the shoreline even though he was born in Havana Cuba.

From this I wanted to learn more about the Semiahmoo because I wanted to shed the stereotype of our First Peoples. In the 2009 article written by Phil Dougherty he explained that in the 1790s 300 people lived here and unlike their fellow Coast Salish brethren’s they were net fishermen. This location, along with Lilly Point in Point Roberts, was their main stable food supply. It relates to what we have been learning in this module because in “Visual Media and the Primitivist Perplex” the article talked about the documentation of the various First People in the USA in an exotic primitive lens. This story, along with the sunsets, showed me that even if there is only 90 of them left, and they live in Canada, their ancestral memories and bone synergies to the land remains. There are some things that science just cannot explain…… and it shouldn’t be able to explain.

Sinixt First Nation Win Recognition in Canada Decades after ‘Extinction’

I wish to incorporate two sources into one to succinct story. The first article was written by Ashifa Kassam. In the 1950s our Canadian Federal Government declared the Sinixt people to be extinct after the last known resident Annie Joseph died. For decades no thoughts were given until 60 years latter in the city of Nelson Rick DeSautel had charges laid against him by federal officials for poaching. He was there to hunt Elk about 65kms north of the international border. In the Provincial Supreme Court Rick DeSautel told his story how the Sinixt had lived on these lands for over 10,000 years and Judge Lisa Mrozinski listened to genealogical and oral history stories of the Sinixt. Judge Mrozinski declared that even though there’s an international border and Rick was American the Sinixt people do have the right to hunt on lands that have been part of their traditional territory for thousands of years.

Who were the Sinixt and how does this relate to the course? The second website has a very extensive database of the Sinixt. The Sinixt were a people who lived along the Columbia River and the salmon was sacred. It relates to the course because in week #4 I emphasized how media, such as the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, are examples of positive stories. There are countless negative stories but where are the positive stories in media? This is an example of a proven incorrect story which has been corrected.

Jumbo Wild

In BC, the Columbia Mountains and Purcell Range harbours a decades long dispute. The provincial government wants a year round winter resort which will have thousands of visitors. While Qat’muk was the official name that the Ktunaxa, First Peoples, had given to this land because this is where the grizzly bears spirits while in hibernation will come out to play. Its a battle between capitalist ski hill expansion versus environmental protectionism with spiritual land connections.

However, after I listened to Nancy Turner from week #6 I understand the connection that botany has to the land. This showed how media once again can be used positively. It exemplifies how our “post-colonial” government cannot stop the far reaching effects of internet streaming services such as Netflix.

Vancouver Olympic Logo: A Smiling Maker of Death?

In my recent discussions I discussed the Vancouver Olympics and the Four Host Nations. However, there was another story that wasn’t shared – the Inukshuk. In the article written by Martin Kaste, the official logo for the games was an Inuit marker. A marker designed for those who are traveling over vast frozen arctic land. This was controversial because the Inuit do not live down in the Pacific Northwest but yet one of their markers, albeit stylized, was use to symbolize the games for all Canadians? However, did we really want to use a symbol that represents death and survival?

According to Peter Irniq, an expert on this design, the actual layout of the Inukshuk in the 2010 games was a “fake.” While the story of survival and attrition are linked to the game spirit the power of media, and tourism to make money can distort the original meanings of even a pile of rocks…..

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