Friday, February 17, 2017

Murdered Missing Indigenous Women's Inquiry - Enormous Task - Enormous Hopes

"Our women and girls are sacred." 

The first line from the web site of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The operating principles:

The Inquiry has been been launched and the Commissioners  have been selected and the terms of reference have been set. 

"Whereas the Government of Canada has committed to launching an inquiry to identify and examine the systemic causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada and to make recommendations for effective action;"

The task for the Commissioners is enormous. I wonder where they will begin first? I wonder how if it will fulfill expectations from families of MMIW and others? 

I have mixed feelings with the Inquiry. I believe people are not going to get to where they want to be at the end of it. People will want to get answers to who did what and what happened to the Women and Girls. Wish it were so but I am not sure. You see it will need to be like an investigator; to look into the files of the cases. Will there be access to look into "open files"?

I also wonder about the power, the authority the Commissioners of the Inquiry will have. Will they be able to get access to the police investigations? Will they be able to get to get Bureaucrats interviewed? 

Will the Commission have the authority to do that; to look at the files of on going investigations? The Inquiry Act gives them the authority yes, but the specific MMIW Inquiry only refers to Part one of the Act. The Terms of Reference for the Inquiry identifying the Authority of the Commissioners does not reflect Part Two of the Inquiry Act. The Authority of the Commissions has no "compelling powers." 

Still on the Canada page outlining the announcement of the MMIW Inquiry does say they have power. :  The Inquiries Act gives the commissioners powers to conduct the inquiry independently. The commissioners will have the power to:

  • call any witnesses
  • require witnesses to give evidence
  • require the production of any document or item that they need relevant to their investigation

The Terms of reference of the MMIW Inquiry do not match the statement of the Government. Where the powers of the announcement does state the Commissioners will have power to compel individuals to provide evidence, those powers seem to absent in the Commissioners authority list.  

It may be nothing. Maybe the Inquiry Commissioners will be able to get the Police to testify or sit for questions. Maybe the Inquiry will be able to get Government officials both bureaucrats and elected members to testify. As we have seen in British Columbia it is important. There was a purge of emails regarding the Highway of Tears issue by high level officials. Since most of the MMIW are still open cases there will be no way to access information as to what is going on. So you can understand the barriers to access and on going investigation.

So that brings in the question, What will the MMIW Inquiry solve? What will it accomplish? It might be a huge exercise in letting parents, family, children speaking about how they feel? Of course that is needed, for those affected to be able to voice. Will it bring answers?

I am not sure if it will. 

The lines below show the difference between usually powers of an inquiry and you can see the MMIW Commissioners powers are muted compared to regular Inquiry powers. 

Inquires Act

Powers of commissioners concerning evidence
 The commissioners have the power of summoning before them any witnesses, and of requiring them to
  • (a) give evidence, orally or in writing, and on oath or, if they are persons entitled to affirm in civil matters on solemn affirmation; and
  • (b) produce such documents and things as the commissioners deem requisite to the full investigation of the matters into which they are appointed to examine.
  • R.S., c. I-13, s. 4.
Marginal note:Idem, enforcement
 The commissioners have the same power to enforce the attendance of witnesses and to compel them to give evidence as is vested in any court of record in civil cases.
Powers of commissioners
 For the purposes of an investigation under section 6, the commissioners
  • (a) may enter into and remain within any public office or institution, and shall have access to every part thereof;
  • (b) may examine all papers, documents, vouchers, records and books of every kind belonging to the public office or institution;
  • (c) may summon before them any person and require the person to give evidence, orally or in writing, and on oath or, if the person is entitled to affirm in civil matters on solemn affirmation; and
  • (d) may administer the oath or affirmation under paragraph (c)..
  • R.S., c. I-13, s. 7.
Marginal note:Subpoena or summons
  •  (1) The commissioners may, under their hands, issue a subpoena or other request or summons, requiring and commanding any person therein named
    • (a) to appear at the time and place mentioned therein;
    • (b) to testify to all matters within his knowledge relative to the subject-matter of an investigation; and
    • (c) to bring and produce any document, book or paper that the person has in his possession or under his control relative to the subject-matter of the investigation.
    • _______________________________________________________________________

As you can see the Inquiry Act gives some broad powers and can compel interested parties to testify. Now compare to the powers under the MMIW terms of reference

  1. direct the Commissioners to inquire into and to report on the following:
    1. systemic causes of all forms of violence — including sexual violence — against Indigenous women and girls in Canada, including underlying social, economic, cultural, institutional and historical causes contributing to the ongoing violence and particular vulnerabilities of Indigenous women and girls in Canada, and
    2. institutional policies and practices implemented in response to violence experienced by Indigenous women and girls in Canada, including the identification and examination of practices that have been effective in reducing violence and increasing safety
  2. direct the Commissioners to make recommendations on the following:
    1. concrete and effective action that can be taken to remove systemic causes of violence and to increase the safety of Indigenous women and girls in Canada, and
    2. ways to honour and commemorate the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada;
  3. direct the Commissioners to conduct the inquiry under the name of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls ("the Inquiry");
  4. authorize the Commissioners to adopt any procedures that they consider expedient for the proper conduct of the Inquiry, to sit at the times and in the places, especially in Indigenous communities in Canada, that the Commissioners consider appropriate and to conduct the Inquiry, to the greatest extent possible, by means of informal processes such as the gathering of statements by qualified trauma-informed persons to record the experiences of families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and survivors of violence against Indigenous women and girls participating in the Inquiry;
  5. direct the Commissioners to take into account, in conducting the Inquiry, that the Inquiry process is intended, to the extent possible,
    1. to be trauma-informed and respect the persons, families and communities concerned,
    2. to provide an opportunity for persons, families and community members to express and share their experiences and views, particularly on ways to increase safety and prevent and eliminate violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada,
    3. to be culturally appropriate and to acknowledge, respect and honour the diverse cultural, linguistic and spiritual traditions of Indigenous peoples, and
    4. to promote and advance reconciliation and to contribute to public awareness about the causes of and solutions for ending violence experienced by Indigenous women and girls in Canada;
  6. authorize the Commissioners to provide any person having a substantial and direct interest in the subject matter of the Inquiry with an opportunity to participate in the Inquiry;

The MMIW Inquiry is quite long on soft power and absent is real power of an Inquiry. 

So I wonder what will the end result? 

There are high hopes for concrete answers to what happened to these Women. 

I feel bad for the Commissioners they have a big task with no real tools to complete the task. 

You have to ask why are the Commission not voicing concern over their lack of power? The Inquiry Act gives them the power but the government is taking those powers away? So what is the MMIW Inquiry supposed to accomplish?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

You're Killing Your Sister: The Drug Dealer

You’re Killing Your Sister

I was at the Wake (Awake) of my cousin last week. While at the Wake my brother and I visited with another cousin. He was telling us a number of his experiences with addictions, drug use, drug sales and the street life. He is now on a good path and doing a strong battle against the addictions. One of the things he told us, he did sell prescription medicine in the Reserve. Our Reserve is inundated with prescription abuse and addiction. It is no exaggeration to say it (pill addiction) is affecting all ranges of people, regardless of age, occupation and lifestyle. There have been many deaths related to the addiction.  He told us of his brother-in-law who came to talk with him. His brother-in-law told him to stop selling pills to his sister. “You’re Killing your Sister” he said. So our cousin stopped supplying pills to his sister. A year later his same brother-in-law came to see him to purchase pills for the sister. Our cousin didn’t sell any pills to him. Addiction touches everyone.
A friend of mine was telling me about his brother, “the old snake in the grass”.  The brother stays in his home looking out through the curtains waiting for traffic. The brother sells marijuana-dope. Lately he has diversified his portfolio and has taken to selling prescription drugs to hungry customers. My friend has said that he wonders how his brother will feel when someone dies with the pills the brother sells? My friend has told his brother this as well.
We all know who the dealers of death are (cue the dramatic music) and where they live. We are their families, their friends, their acquaintances and in some cases their nephews.  So if the market is so open why isn’t it being addressed as openly?  We whisper to each other, “there’s that loser”, “there’s the one that gave the pills that killed ______”, “how come no one tells on them”, “he is family to the Council”, and words like that.
I think we have a weird relationship with the police and justice system. We can’t trust the police. Our memories are not short so we remember the police actions to our family, to our friends to everyone in the Reserve. Yet many people call them in secret about this guy driving with no license. We call on the people that are stealing, that are fighting their partners-wives. We do call the police. There was a time when we did not call the police. If we did, we didn’t want the person arrested, we just wanted the situation to be calmed down. Unfortunately that is not the way it works, the cops come and take people away. There is no talking, no trying to resolve the situation. Let the courts handle that. We don’t want to deal with police.
So why is the drug seller out in the open with no consequence? Is it because we are complacent with that situation? Do we give in to the power of addiction? Do we help to kill our sister? Or maybe our daughter? Our Son? Our cousin? Our friend?
I am that way, complicit with the actions of the dealer. Why?  I am not a fan of the justice system so I would not involve the police. I do however, believe in O(n)Jinay. What we do is answered. I know that in not doing anything, I am Killing my sister, my brother, my daughter, my son.
So are you guilty as well?  Guilty of Killing Your Sister?
The situation in our community (the larger Indigenous community) has exploded. The Meth is a crisis everywhere. We are seeing our Sisters, daughters, aunties being killed. Meth is ravaging our people. Will we be complicit as it destroys lives?  

Four Legs of the Buffalo: Youth Film Project: Idea for anyone to consider.

I wonder if this would be an idea worth pursuing.

Four Legs of the Buffalo: Youth Film Project

Four Legs of the Buffalo is a film project which takes place in four different Native communities; Dakota Cree and Ojibwe. Each community will have youth film their daily lives and activities for the general society to see a glimpse of the live of a youth in the Native community today.
What is life like for the Indigenous Youth? Do we really have knowledge of what they face? If you ask the youth “what do you want to be when you grow up? Where do you see yourself after school is complete? Where do you see yourself in five years?”
The young people of the Reserves in Manitoba have different lives than those of the youth in the city. With many obstacles and many benefits of rural community life the Indigenous lives are alien to the broader society. A film collaboration between the four Native reserves would demonstrate their life similarities and differences. Some communities have a strong grasp of the language of their ancestors, while some communities are in danger of losing the language all together. Some communities are isolated or semi-isolated while others are situated next to larger towns or cities.  Many communities are dealing with so much social ills the effects are devastating. This project will allow the communities to learn about each other as well as give the wider audience a peek into their lives.
The project is entitled Four Legs of the Buffalo. There is a story about Earth and its lives. As with the Buffalo legs, the Earth has four lives. It is said that the Earth has lived and died three times before (with the ages of Technology, Water, Fire) and we are on the last life of the Earth. The story outlines the position of four and the strength of four for life. As it is so of the Buffalo roamed strong with four legs. Like the four legs of the Buffalo this project will be stronger with the four communities. The contrast, the similarity, the connections and the differences will be highlighted by the youth in this project. The project will need four strong mentors from each community to ensure the project gets completed. The project will need the four communities to support, to buy into the project and to take ownership of the project in order for its success.
A professional media company will train the youth and mentors in proper use of the cameras and take part in the edition process.

Project Activity:

Four communities will take part in a film project aimed at youth. The youth will be either in high school or active in community generally. The communities will use existing resources such as a teacher, a Child Family Worker (CFS), a Addictions Counselor ( NNADAP) worker, guidance councillor, School Teacher, health worker or cultural worker to act as the project leader and mentor in each community. The key is to use and existing resource person with the time energy to see the project to fruition.
Each community will be asked to support the project by providing the personnel to oversee the youth and follow the project to fruition.  Each community will be asked for a capital expenditure for a semi-profession camcorder and accessories will be required in the project.
The youth will be responsible for “normal activity footage” and for some interviews of peers in the community. The film is to catch the lives of youth in the Reserve. Some of the interview will have in depth conversations with the youth; their dreams, their reality.
A community call out for participants will take place for selection of film directors and participants. A maximum of eight youth to capture footage and do interviews of peers and other interested participants in the community. A balance of male to female participants would be ideal but it will ultimately be at the discretion of each community.
The Community will send the youth to Winnipeg to take part in a two day workshop on camera techniques and editing.
A mentor will be sought out in the community to assist in the leadership role of the project at the community level. The youth will enter into contracts which emphasize the responsibility, commitment and conduct to participate in the project.
The mentor will be responsible for the logistics of camera and equipment usage as well as the necessary release forms and waivers. The mentor will be responsible for the sign out of the equipment along with securing the memory cards of camera footage.
The project will set a time table of 8 weeks for training and for film footage. Editing will take place in Winnipeg and will be limited from two to four weeks. Editing process may be limited to two members of the film project from each community taking part; for practical reasons of managing the editing process.
A company such as Just TV in Winnipeg would be a great group to work with. It is a project group based out of the Broadway community and Spence Neighbourhood. They take part in training youth for the film industry. They have valuable expertise and work with the Indigenous community. Veteran Television news person Mr. Jim Compton is another valuable resource to network with. The amount of Indigenous talent is abundant in the Manitoba community. Seeking out an interested and willing partner will be key in the success of the project.

To engage youth in learning skills, commitment responsibility and to become aware of their opportunities and create awareness for society in general.
To show the World What the life is like for the Indigenous Youth. A cross section of communities will demonstrate similar and differences youth are faced with.
To bring the world into the lives of the young Indigenous and their activities dreams obstacles and realities.
The Four Reserves will be divided between east west north and south regions. To create linkages with other communities, build networks and to engage in building lasting relationships.

The Reserves will utilize existing resources to manage and oversee the project; Schools, CFS, Health centre or NNADAP program workers or local police service.  The success of the project will be greatly influenced by the mentor and the commitment of each youth.
A film company will have camera tutorials for each student and project manager. Just TV or other Film groups in Winnipeg will be sought out to assist youth in the film industry.
The project manager will be responsible for safe keeping of equipment and logistics of waiver forms, keeping recording cards for editing.
Skills acquired: basic camera skills, interview skills, editing skills, responsibilities.
Finished project to be taken to APTN, local Schools, Winnipeg School Division no 1 and to be later released on youtube.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Larry Morrissette & the Film We Will Be Free

Larry is/was a good guy. That's how I know him. He has many friends and acquaintances.
I liked Larry very much. Was fortunate to get to know him and befriend him.

Thank you Larry for your impact.

Friday, February 10, 2017

What You Wish For Your Kid

As I still deal with the aftermath (long aftermath) of my Son ending his life by Suicide in 2005 I still know what I want for my children. I want them to better than I am and was. I want to them to have a good education, a good career, a good partner, to be happy and have a good life.

There is a lot of talk about the Suicide epidemic in the Indigenous community these days. That is a good thing.


Facts on Suicide Rates

Youth suicide is an urgent issue for First Nations and Inuit youth in Canada. While there is much variation among communities, overall rates are high.
  • Suicide rates are five to seven times higher for First Nations youth than for non-Aboriginal youth.
  • Suicide rates among Inuit youth are among the highest in the world, at 11 times the national average.

Addressing Youth Suicide Prevention

Suicide is a problem that not only affects youth but impacts the whole community. The ripple effect of trauma is powerful in small, close-knit Aboriginal communities, possibly accounting for suicide clusters.
For many First Nations and Inuit youth, the root causes of suicide go much deeper to factors beyond an individual's control. For some, suicide becomes a means of escape when there are few alternative choices available. Suicide prevention generally involves finding ways to reduce risk factors and promoting protective and preventive factors against suicide.


We all want the best for our kids. At least I think we all want that. There might be exceptions. Still even there our those of us who want the best for their kids.

Thing is we can't live anyone's life but our own. We see some parents trying to live their kids lives. Just go to a hockey rink or a football game and watch parents. They put so much pressure on the kids.

We all try to have control but the reality is we don't have any. We can only try and control the choices we face. Choice is a hard thing. Some of them are. Other choices are automatic and easy. We wish the best for our kids so our choices should reflect that. After all these years I still struggle with choices I made and make. There are so many influences which affect our choices and of course have an affect on our kids.

How in the heck do we know we are making good choices? The choices will result in our children having the best of life?

When we say we want the best for our kids and yet we make choices that may negatively impact them. We smoke in the car with babies. We smoke in the house with kids. We have parties while the kids are in their rooms listening to all the noise. We fight our spouse in front of our kids. We stay up all night making all sorts of noise and expect our kids to have a good rest. We send to school with dirty clothes and no breakfast. We scream at them when they spill their juice. We buy so much pepsi and give them junk food and expect them not to be affected. We do all sorts of stupid choices and really don't think about what is best for our kid. But we want the best for them?

The regret of hindsight. How I wish I was smarter when the good advice was given to me by my Mom.

That's the thing, we may do all the best and make the right choices but we have no control over the outcome of our children, our kids. Its all comes down to making the choice on their own. We can only try and give good advice and show them good choices but it is out of our control.

My Mom was a cool person, no pretense. She told me once, "don't let them catch you". She was referring to the police. The police did not have a good reputation in our community. Not sure it has changed much. You see my Mom wasn't telling me to be a smart criminal or anything. What she was saying was make good choices. Don't put yourself in a position to be involved with police.

I remember the advice my Mom said our Mishoom gave to her and Dad.
Mom said Mishoom told them to be like this and not like this. Mishoom held out his finger and pointed it straight and then he bent his finger. He went on to say "if someone says meet them in town, and you say you will, you make sure to meet them in town." You see it was not easy to get into town back in those days and if someone made the effort to get to town you made sure to keep your word. In other words "be your word".  That is the advice my Mom gave to us kids.

No whether we chose to follow that advice is something else.

You only want the best for your kids.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Helping Families - Murdered Missing Indigenous Women - Dealing with Media

Helping families going through a MMIW situation deal with the media
by Michael Hutchinson
The media is a double-edged sword. The reach of the media may be an effective tool in educating the public that someone is missing, however, given the many different factions within the media and the various views on how objectivity is produced, the exposure can cause emotional pain, intellectual concern and leave a family feeling less in control of the situation.
Who are the media?
The media are a group of businesses that produce a product which is a collection of information that often makes its way into the homes of the general public. As businesses, they can be owed by interests that have opinions, politics and motivations. They have employees that can rookies, experienced, jaded, caring, knowledgeable, lazy, or selfish. The stories they create can be influenced by a kind word or a harsh one and may not be free from personal feelings on the issues, on the individuals involved, or on types/classes of people.
The principle of objectivity is supposed to be a concern of the media, but how a media venue defines objectivity, or accomplishes it, may vary. Many media today say true objectivity is impossible, so instead they pick a political side and just be upfront about that. Right-wing media will have a different perspective on issues than left-wing media. Rookie reporters may fulfill their need of a second side by finding someone that presents an alternative view, no matter if that alternative view is valid, held-by-many, or is openly antagonistic to the issue without being aware of the details in a particular case.
“Feeding the beast” is a phrase used by journalists to describe their day or work period. A newspaper has to fill column inches in order to sell. A TV show has to fill time in order to sell. News comes in cycles, so there will be times when media venues have a hard time filling their product (ex: some Mondays).
“Feeding the beast” also means deadlines as the product has to be put together. Both these facts mean that there good times and bad times to try to get reporters’ attention. Sometimes the timing of events means holding a press conference at a poor time, but knowing the needs of the reporters in your area will help you better plan as the situation progresses and time goes on.
“If it bleeds it leads” is unfortunately another principle within journalism. Media venues produce a product. It is human nature to value drama, conflict, awareness of the negative forces around us, and the promise of fulfillment of baser needs. The lowest common denominator is easy to sell. Conflict is the media’s bread and butter.
Credibility is also an important part of journalism. Reporters need to find credible people in order to fill their stories. This can be used as a carrot to lead reporters and we’ll discuss that in a bit.
Media also comes in formats that define what a report needs and what feds their beast. Print reporters will be looking for lots of detail, sometimes this can be a good thing, sometimes not. TV reporters will be heavily influenced by pictures and available visuals. They will need detail, but often not the amount print reporters will be looking for. Radio reporters are somewhere in the middle and will be looking for sounds. All the reporters will be looking for clips/quotes from the main players in a situation. How they want those delivered will be influenced by their product’s format.
The media’s most valuable traits for a family going through a MMIW situation is its ability to inform a wide range of the public and, hopefully, create a sense of caring about the situation. Indigenous organizations should help guide a family through a tragedy in a way that will be most healthy for the family, using the media to get positive results, while minimizing the negative aspects of being used by the media.
First Steps
Warning the family about the media
Media involvement is not always at the request of those involved. Any issue that has police involvement may attract the attention of the media. Before engaging the media, whether involved or not at the current time, the family should be warned about the media and all that has been mention above. Once the media are involved, the challenge will become influencing the reporters to include the family’s perspectives into their stories or, in some cases, putting the brakes on the story.
Once reporters are on the story, the family will not be able to stop the media from asking them or the police or others questions surrounding the issue. This means the family will not be able to stop reporters from sticking their nose in family issues, digging into the backstory of persons involved, or even using the family’s story to further the agenda of the media venue itself. For example, in the case of a runaway, the family will not be able to stop reporters from asking people who knew the runaway about the family’s home life and any conflicts or struggles that may be going on there.
The first steps the family takes to approach the media will colour the rest of story’s journey.
Questions to ask at step one
The best way to influence the media is to have a consistent, credible and colourful message that is available for reporters when they need. The first steps should be deciding on what that message will be and what tools do the family have available to deliver that message.
Questions to ask:
• Do we want media involvement? Will it occur regardless of our wants?
• Are the police involved? What information will the police give the media about the subject?
• Will there be facts that may shed a negative light on the subject (eg, sex worker? Yes or no?)?
• What image do we want to create of subject? How do we want to address negative message that may come out?
• Are there social media sources that the media can use to get pictures or information on the subject?
Choosing a spokesperson to represent the family may be a difficult decision, but it is an important one. The media will want someone who can deliver a clear message within a few sentences. The best spokesperson to choose is someone who is credible, who can deliver a message through the emotions, who can answer tough questions, and who is available frequently and at odd times for the media to access. By answering the questions above, and possibly even role playing as reporters, the spokesperson can have the answers on hand before the reporters ask them. Preparation is important.
While the spokesperson may want to show some emotion, ultimately, their job is to deliver the family’s message and an overabundance of weeping can get in the way of that. It will be good to have “criers” at press conferences and to even provide quotes for the media. The principle spokesperson for the family should be made clear to reporters and pains should be taken, by those who agreed on that spokesperson, to consistently use that person and direct media to them.
Lawyers, if available, may be those best capable of representing a family in front of the media during a crisis. Of course, they cost money and may not be an option. Religious leaders, community Elders, or family-associated officials may be other options.
Choosing that spokesperson may reveal conflicts or factions within the family involved or the people close to the issue. This can be a dangerous situation. Asking those involved, “I know you disagree with them, but is there someone on that side who you can respectfully work with?” may be the best course of action for the Indigenous organizations in these cases. Healing within the family should always be an aim of the Indigenous organizations and keeping an issue in the media will often create bruising, conflict, and pressure within a family.
Creating a bio
In the case of a MMIW, the family will want to create a message that puts the subject in the best light, while also dealing with the realities of the subject person. The message should be clear enough to deliver in a few sentences.
• Jane Doe was a mother for four and member of the Big Tree First Nation. She was in university, but was also interested in many of things her age are. We are not aware of her involvement in anything illegal or crime related.
• Jane Smith was someone struggling with addiction. As a family we reached out to her many times, but she choose to find her own solutions and wasn’t always successful. She did try to rehabilitate at organizations like Help-me Addictions Services.
The message should then be backed up with as little detail necessary to provide credibility. The bio will be longer than the message, but it should always keep that message-statement in mind. This first biography of the person will also include details like height, weight, hair colour, eye colour, last known location, and contacts for people to reach if they know any information.
The bio may also want to provide written quotes from the family. For example, if the family doesn’t want to talk to the media directly, the bio can contain a few written quotes from family that media could use. It may also want to address the message or detail delivered by police involved.
Social media may also be a source of pictures and information for the media. If these pictures show things like drug use, gang ties, alternative lifestyles or questionable activity, the family should be prepared for all this to come out. They may want to address it in their bio.
Providing pictures and video
The media will want visuals. All visuals should be clear, high resolution, and as current as possible. All visuals should contribute to the main message’s credibility (for example, no pics with beer in hand).
Getting visuals to the media can be important as they may fall back on using pictures that are made available by the police, which are usually mugs shots.
The family should be prepared ahead of time to see their pictures used with stories they may not agree with. Once given to the media there is not much they can do about that.
Social media may also be a source of pictures and information for the media. If these pictures show things like drug use, gang ties, alternative lifestyles or questionable activity, the family should be prepared for all this to come out. They may want to address it in their bio. If a family can shut down social media sites belonging to the subject that may be an action to take into consideration.
The press conference
For this section, I’ll assume the family has a local Indigenous organization available for a venue and the use of the their information and infrastructure to reach out to media.
On any given day, the best time to hold press conference is between 11AM to 2PM. This gives reporters time to sell the story to their boss, get their equipment and get to the venue. It also gives them enough time to go back to the studio to write, edit, and voice the story for that night’s newscast or publishing.
Press invites to the presser (press conference) should go out as early as possible, at least, before the end of the business day on the day before. Invites sent the morning of the presser, while sometimes necessary, will often not fit in to that day’s flow of news. Such disconnect at the start of the story can impact its placement within the news. Possibly, moving it from a front page story to a blurb at the back.
The bio should be printed and made available to reporters as they walk in. Instructions on how to access relevant visuals/pictures/links from the Indigenous organization’s website should also be made available. Contacts for the spokesperson should be made clear.
The spokesperson should be prepared with answers for the most likely-to-be-asked questions. One or two other family members may be available to provide a short statement, possibly to be an emotional appeal, but the spokesperson should be doing most of the talking for the family. In order to keep the message clear and concise the press conference should not be long. The more you give reporters, the more chance there is that they may go off message.
Try to get all questions out during the question period. Warn reporters they will not be able to scrum (crowd around subject and fire questions) the family, so questioning is appropriate during time available.
Remember spokesperson, these answers are perfectly acceptable:
• No comment;
• I’m just a spokesperson, so I’ll have to go back and discuss how we’d like to respond with the family;
• I don’t have any more information on that;
• We’ll try to get back to you on that.
Don’t be afraid to use them.
Other people will also be there of course. The Grand Chief and local leaders may also want to speak to the situation. They should be aware of the agreed-upon message and keep it in mind as they speak. At this time, it may be best to refrain from tying the situation to larger issues until more details regarding the situation are known. Keep it short and on subject; the family and this specific MMIW.
As the presser progresses, the family may want to notice which reporters are asking what, which reporters seem sympathetic to their message, and which reporters seem to be following their own agenda. This information may become helpful later on if the situation continues for some time.
The Situation Continues
Unfortunately, in many cases, the situation carries on beyond the influence of the first presser. Of course, pressure and emotional toll is building in the family and the community. It is at this time that the tools we worked on in the previous section become important when it comes to staying on message and keeping the situation in the media’s, and therefore the public’s, minds.
Negative Ripples
As reporters continue to flush out the story, their needs may change, and their intensity in following the story may be quite different, ranging from, “my boss told me to do this” to “I think this might be an award winner”.
Ultimately, a news venue and its reporters will re-enforce the perspective of the audience they’ve cultivated. For example, there will be reporters trying to support the idea that people who live “high risk lifestyles” are the masters of their own negative fate. On the other hand, there will be reporters that do just as much damage by trying to convince their audience that the subject shouldn’t be seen as anything other than a victim. Real people are not back-and-white creatures. Every woman is someone’s daughter and was once a child. They may also be an adult who made their own choices.
The stories produced by the media will give the family a good idea of the next set of questions the media may ask to further the story. The spokesperson may want to note these and work with the family to prepare answers. If the family was effective and honest in creating their original message statement, it may not need to be updated. At this time and into the future consistency of message will be important.
Identifying sympathetic and good reporters
By watching the results of the presser, the family can better understand which reporters and venues are sympathetic to their cause. Depending on how much conflict is involved in the situation, using sympathetic reporters to deliver information to the media is an option. However, bad stories should be expected, and shutting out a media venue may mean not reaching a large audience with the information that may locate a missing person.
As the story progresses into months, sympathetic reporters may be crucial to keeping the story in the media spotlight.
Screaming RACISM!
In the original presser and the following days or month, the question of whether racism is a factor in situation will come up. This should be handled very carefully by the Indigenous organization and family - the priorities of the family (finding their loved one) should be kept foremost.
Credibility is an important thing in dealing with the media.
Credibility will be crucial in delivering and getting the media to accept and use the family’s message throughout the story’s timespan. When you accuse organizations of racism, you will cause them to defend themselves. If the police force involved is accused of racism at the start of a case, it may influence their handling of the case over all, but it will certainly cause them to bring up facts and procedures in their defense. Once this conflict starts, whether justified or not, it will take the focus of the media off the subject at hand. While the search is still fresh, you may want to keep any concerns of racism out of the messaging unless it will specifically improve the actions of authorities at that time.
The very act of a police force providing any small evidence that refutes a family’s message will impact the family spokesperson’s credibility. Be screaming racism, you’ll be backing the police into a corner that will result in them defending their officers, their organization and their mandate. There will always be reporters who are always pro-police, not matter what.
If the issue carries on for months, revisiting the idea of charging some person or organization with racism may be revisited. But it is just a complicating factor at the start of a case.
Keeping situation in the media
As the media attention wanes from initial incident, it may be necessary to take action to keep the media interested. Reporters need to report on something and that something often needs to be current. By providing events and new information for the media to work off of, it is possible to keep them interested. Vigils, pressers with new agreements/partners/information, fundraisers, honouring feasts, and other such events can give the media a current subject to report on that are connected to the case.
The spokesperson may want to go back and speak to those reporters that seemed sympathetic or even those that wanted an award-winner of a story. Find out if they’re interested in revisiting the case or if there is another angle they could use to retell the story (deeper stories from family?). Building relationships with reporters will be important from the very beginning. Reporters have a job to do and will respond to being treated with respect. They will also respond to being treated disrespectfully and a reporter who is turned off will be hard to get sympathy from later.
Killing the Story
Sometimes, there may be a need to stop the story or have interest in the story slowly go away. For example, if a runaway has been found, it may not be healthy for the teen to return to high school if details of the case are still coming out in the media.
Respectful non-communication is the best way to end interest in a story. However, that will be difficult to do if other events or information is coming out relating to the case. If the issue of racism is brought up, this conversation may carry on outside of the family’s ability to influence a shut down or prevent details coming to light. The family should ask to be made aware of any police forces’ announcement concerning their case, hopefully, prior to the police sharing with media. This will give the family time to revisit their messaging and they will not be in a reactive stance.
The media is a tool that comes with its own interests and motivations. They do have access to large audiences, but they are creating a product, and will use the tragedies of regular families to build and sell that product. By creating a consistent message, and being aware that others will make up their own messages, a family going through a MMIW situation can use the media to help in the search for their loved one. Those people and organizations that want to help should always keep the future health of the family in mind when advising a family on media use.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Slack Songs: How Did They Get Air?

Music is a part of our lives. As a kid I listened to lots of music; what my Dad liked, and what my older sibling liked and of course public radio. Out in the rural area there was no FM stations so AM was our staple. Today music is quite a different animal. Not only in the styles but in the many different ways in how it reaches us. Songs are used in movies and tv shows. There are 24 hours music channels on television and satellite radio stations and internet channels. So many choices for how we get our music. I don't go to the hotels so I don't get to hear local or traveling musical acts. My wife does take me to live acts which is always a treat. Except I was deeply disappointed in a few shows:  Steve Earle, Van Morrison, Willie Nelson. They were not on their best game. However I still am a fan of their tunes. Any how I was laying down relaxing and had the radio on, this song came on: "Your Daddy Don't Know What Your Momma Gonna Do Tonight''.  Holy heck what a piece of work. I mean how in the heck did this song get to be played on radio.  All I could think of to describe this tune is - Slack.
It got me thinking about how music is part of our lives, the good and the slack. So here is my list of Slack Songs.

- Your Daddy Don't Know by Canadian Band Toronto. Can't say anything else. Who would sing to their kid about fooling around on their Dad??? Slack. But maybe I am wrong and she is singing about sneaking off to Bingo. Lot of people have been known to do that.

- De Do Do Do De Da Da Da by the Police. What a title.  Don't get me wrong it could have been a song we could have lived with but De Do Do Do? Really Slack

- Didn't you kill me Brother  by Alexei Sayle. A catchy tune but crazy. I don't think this guy was a singer.

- TipToe Through the Tulips. Tiny Tim either this guys is genius or just out of this world.
-La Macaran by Los Del Rio.  Was there ever a crazier moment?
- Numa Numa - Now this one went crazy and made this guy famous. Its originally Roma
- Achy Breaky Heart - by Billy Ray Cyrus.  Admit it you were crazy for this song.

There is a catchy song on the radio by this kid Hailee Steinfield and it goes "I didn't know I was starving until I tasted you"??? Wow that's deep.

- I'm Too Sexy by Right Said Fred.  Yeah I admit it. I liked this catchy tune. Sang it all the time walking around my living room shaking my little tush.

- Hot Hot Hot by Buster Poindexter  This must have been a joke song but went wild and is still a staple on the hot beaches of the tropics.

Love Shack by the B-52's  I always wondered if this was a real group. Still this song gets lots of airplay.  You know this song don't you? Even though its slack you like the string guitar sound.

Groove is in the Heart  by Deee-Lite  I admit I still like this one.  I remember some VJ on Much music interviewing the singer of Deee-Lite. The VJ was just a witch. Trying to justify her actions as if she was some type of journalists exposing a story. funny. The VJ was accusing the band of using cheap tricks like the video.

Knowledge Keeper and Knowledge Giver

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