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APTN vs. Settler News Coverage of Tyendinaga

April 26, 2008

APTN vs. Settler News Coverage of Tyendinaga

Settling In.jpg

Photo by Clarkwork Orange

I've never actually watched the Aboriginal People's Television Network, but judging from their coverage of the recent arrest of Shawn Brant, I'll likely be tuning in to their online newscasts far more often.

The dominant narrative surrounding Brant's arrest, one of the many sparks that has ignited the standoff currently underway between hundreds of heavily armed Ontario Provincial Police officers and an estimated hundred Mohawk demonstrators and supporters at a blockade in Tyendinaga, is that of Brant breaching his bail conditions from his arrest following June 29th. Brant, of course, was one of the organizers of the one-day blockade of Mohawks of a stretch of the 401 highway between Montreal and Toronto during last year's June 29th national day of action. His bail conditions prohibited him from taking part in protests or acts of civil disobedience.

According to the Globe and Mail's account, Brant was arrested "during a traffic stop" and that "during Mr. Brant's arrest, two officers were allegedly confronted by a group of people and assaulted." Apparently, police then "noticed several suspects who were wanted in connection with protests in Deseronto on Monday and Tuesday," after which their attempt at arrest was foiled. Police then noticed a Mohawk demonstrator at the Tyendinaga site "pointing a long gun" at them. The CTV has reported
that Brant faces charges of assault with a weapon, mischief, breach of recognizance and possession of dangerous weapons.

Neither of these accounts note that Brant's arrest was actually captured on tape by the APTN. In the short segment, currently viewable on their website, Brant's arrest is clearly shown as occurring, not at a blockade nor at a traffic stop, but as he is giving a media interview with the APTN. The video pictures clearly demonstrate that Brant displays no sign of resistance to his arrest. Tellingly, Brant's words of resigned sarcasm to the APTN journalists has not been repeated in any coverage of the Tyendinaga standoff.

Says Brant: "This is it, justice for first nations communities: lock us up. Anybody who speaks out, lock-em up. KI6, Bob Lovelace: lock-em up...Don't fix the problems, lock-em up."

In keeping with the mainstream news' tendency to give privileged emphasis to police press releases, little attention is given to the repeated assertions that the Mohawk protestors, who have been blockading the private development of a condominium on their unceded territory since Monday, are unarmed. The overwhelming amount of firepower displayed by the OPP, the fact that hundreds of officers have been threatening Mohawk demonstrators at gunpoint, and the apparent campaign of arrests of 7 Mohawk activists in Tyendinaga on Friday, has also been under-emphasized. The CTV's account has been the only one, to my knowledge, to draw attention to the fact that the Mohawk demonstrators have been carrying, not guns, but fishing spears. Said APTN's Annette Francis on CTV, "it's actually fishing season, and that's what they do, spear fish at this time of the year." Thankfully, CTV also recognizes the obvious:

The story bears similarity to the standoff at Ipperwash Provincial Park that resulted in the shooting death of native protester Dudley George in 1995. Police clashed with protesters after an officer allegedly saw George carrying a long gun. It was later determined George had been carrying a tree branch.

Patterns begin to emerge when one looks at what details don't often make it into media coverage about first nations people in Canada. What should be apparent now is that the dominant media narrative is that of painting a picture of first nations people who are willing to actually protect their sovereign territory from illegal developments and from extractive industries as inherently violent, gun-toting, hot-tempered rednecks.

The easiest way to do this is to avoid actually avoid giving at-length interviews with the people who are risking their lives to protect their land and their communities.


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canadian government

Its about damn time the canadian government gave back what is rightfully belonging to the first nations people of this land, It is their GREED and Hunger for power and control, when are the immigrants of this country going to do the right thing and start treating the first nations as people and return their lands to them, we all sit on native soil, we do not OWN what is under our ass' yet they walk around all high and mighty , knowing damn well they are thieves , stollen from the First nations people, Shawn and the others are just standing up for what is rightfully theirs to begin with, the Government assholes need to just sign the friggin papers hand GIVE IT BACK!!!!!

Kwé, kwé Whoever you are

Kwé, kwé
Whoever you are Heather, you're a great soul !
Thanks a lot for your opinion about all these miseries.
As I'm already fighting with Kevin Annett to inform europeans about the Residentiel School genocide, I think I'm going to translate your comment in french (with your permission) to have it known over here because people should know what is like to be a native in Canada today.

Megweetch and madjashin Heather

Makwa

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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