Today we had the opportunity to visit APTN, a news network primarily for and by indigenous peoples based in Winnipeg. We spoke to several staff in the news room, in administration, and with show production. Despite not being closely related to class topics, which include issues of immigration and refugee resettlement, we found the visit to be both informative and eye opening. I found the station fascinating because it intersects with the advocacy of people of color, and especially Black people in the US. One of the staff we had the opportunity to speak with discussed issues of unjust deaths in the indigenous community. Recently, for example, a vigil had been held for a young indigenous man who had been shot in the back of the head by a farmer after trespassing on his land. The staff member pointed out that the Black Lives Matter had also held his or her own vigil.
A producer for APTN explained that the indigenous communities experience heavy discrimination. She pointed out that her own non-indigenous in-laws had even told her, as an indigenous woman, hurtful things. According to a Syrian refugee we met, in Canada, it seems like everyone is against the indigenous community, unlike in the US where it is typically Black and White.
APTN would be nearly impossible to replicate in the US, observed one Princeton student, who compared it to an all-Black television network, that would likely be relegated to a YouTube channel, or online news network, unlikely to get mainstream air time. In Canada, on the other hand, the networks are vertically integrated giving each station more autonomy over its own programming.
One piece of programming that we had the opportunity to watch was ‘First Contact’, a 3-episode TV-show that replicates a show about aboriginal communities Australia. In the Canadian version, 6 people who had stereotypes about native people were sent to the homes of indigenous people to get exposure therapy. The show has faced significant backlash- as did the one in Australia- mainly from the indigenous communities, which express frustration with their continual need to assert their humanity, and make accommodations for groups that refuse to accommodate them.
If such a television show were to be made in the US with Black communities and KKK members, I would fear for the safety of the Black families and communities. In the US, hatred and discrimination is so violent that I wonder if such an experiment could be conducted without the direct harm of the host community.