Theresa Petray’s article, Protest 2.0: Online Interactions and Aboriginal Activists, examines the ways in which social movements, like every other aspect of life, have become increasingly reliant on the internet for networking and information sharing. The article offers an in-depth look at the ways in which the internet and social networking sites have been coopted by disadvantaged groups with few resources, such as First Nations communities, to make their struggle known to a wide audience, to build coalitions, and to gain support to further their cause.
This is a fascinating study by Gil de Zúñiga, Jung, and Valenzuela on the correlation between use of social networking sites informational use and engagement in civic and political action. The study also suggests that participation in social media also facilitates a cohesive community by enabling citizens to engage in civic action. Although the study examines U.S. census data on the whole, the analysis and can be reasonably extended to apply to the Canadian population as well.
A brief, but interesting article written by Nancy MacDonald for MacLean’s Magazine, about the challenges being faced by Bellegarde in balancing the many interests at stake in his role as leader of the Assembly of First Nations. What stood out for me was the mention of how social media has shifted the balance of power. With social media’s capacity to raise collective voices, the article highlights the fact that the voices of First Nations groups are often fragmented, and the notion of a unified indigenous voice is one that is hard to come by.
Moving Forward Together is a toolkit/handbook developed by the First Nations Health Council Communications Advisory Committee Members. The toolkit provides support to First Nation communities in their communications efforts by providing practical advice and tools proven to work at the grassroots level. Although the handbook offers a lot of interesting insight and information which can be leveraged by First Nations groups concerned with improving communications between and amongst communities, the toolkit also contains four case studies which revealed some unanticipated, authentic challenges faced by First Nations groups in building an online presence and following.
Best Practices in Aboriginal Community Development: A Literature Review and Wise Practices Approach is a report developed in 2010 by Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux and Brian Calliou with the aim of providing newly-elected or appointed Aboriginal leaders with an overview of best practices for community building, management, administration, and governance. The report highlights how, in recent times, Aboriginal leaders are experiencing increasing authority and responsibility as both federal and provincial governments make jurisdictional space for Aboriginal self-governance. The report offers some interesting insights on Aboriginal leadership development and capacity building, and emphasizes their critical necessity for true self-government and economic viability.
This is a handbook prepared by a community of Canadian First Nations groups that outlines some of the lessons they learned through their experiences community planning and offers information regarding “best practices” to strengthen future implementation. The handbook includes a section about social media’s role in fostering communication and networking amongst groups, and offers an interesting insight into the value that is inherent in a “from the ground-up” approach to ensure the success of community planning within indigenous communities.
The Media, Aboriginal People, and Common Sense by Robert Hardling
Although a little outdated, this is an interesting study published in the Canadian Journal of Native Studies back in 2005 that provides a bit of insight into how the Media can influence public perception. The study examines coverage of Aboriginal issues by the media and asserts that bias and stereotyping are a common underlying theme, particularly in print media. The study suggests that unsympathetic, unsupportive, and indifferent attitudes are cultivated and perpetuated by the media’s portrayal of indigenous matters, and that on the whole, public knowledge and support of indigenous peoples’ challenges are marginal.
Wotherspoon, Terry, and John Hansen. 2013. The ‘Idle No More’ movement: Paradoxes of First Nations inclusion in the Canadian context. Social In- clusion 1(1):21–36.
This paper examines how Idle No More, a recent movement initiated to draw attention to concerns by Indigenous people about changes in Canada’s environment and economic policies, has been framed by discourses of inclusion and exclusion. The paper asserts that discourses of inclusion and exclusion, by way of stigmatizing and distancing Indigenous people, stall the possibility of finding solutions to the problems that they are trying to fix. The paper closes with a brief examination of how Idle No More served to broaden conceptions of indigenous participation and success.
Carlson, B. (2013). The ‘new frontier’: Emergent Indigenous identities and social media. In M. Harris, M. Nakata & B. Carlson (Eds.), The Politics of Identity: Emerging Indigeneity (pp. 147-168). Sydney: University of Technology Sydney E-Press
This article, while focusing on Indigenous populations in Australia, provides for some interesting insight as to how social media has given rise to significant cultural and social interaction among Aboriginal people and groups. By way of a content analysis, this article contends that popular social media sites, like Facebook, are becoming popular vehicles amongst Aboriginal people, to build, display, and perform Aboriginal identities. Likewise, Aboriginal users take advantages of Facebook as a site for self-representation and as a tool to communicate their Aboriginal identity to other social media users in online communities.
Chapter 13 of The Media Gaze: Representations of Diversities in Canada, by Augie Fleras is entitled Unsilencing Aboriginal Voices: Toward an Indigenous Media Gaze and takes a critical look at how and why Canadian media frame Indigenous issues the way they do. The text draws on many compelling case studies to explore the negative societal implications of this hidden bias on Indigenous people and their attempts at rectifying past and present issues.