For our cuzzins celebrating the Lunar New Year, we send you our best wishes! At IndigiNews there has been change in the air as we recently welcomed several new team members to help paddle our canoe. As we grow and strengthen our storytelling team, we discussed how best to work together over the coming year.
As the Lunar New Year begins, we want to take this opportunity to express to our readers what our storytelling intentions are for 2022, both individually and collectively. We are passionate about decolonizing media, which means examining our own protocols and practices and removing those that seem not to align with or respect our Indigenous ways of knowing and being. It also means creating strong boundaries around the kinds of stories we’re willing to tell, in an effort to protect our minds and the minds of our cuzzins (readers).
We know we can tell the truth while still being gentle.
We remove aggressive verbiage from our protocols. We no longer believe in the colonial mentality of “working hard” or doing things “rigorously”. We aim to treat each other gently this year, especially as communities in Indigenous lands continue to discover the unmarked graves of our children. We also aim to treat you gently, dear cuzzin, because we know that the news can be full of violence and pain, and that anxieties are high.
Since its inception, IndigiNews has challenged the very concept of what “news” is. Our team is made up of both storytellers who don’t have traditional journalism training and those who do. We intentionally didn’t import newsroom culture into our storytelling lodge, and in doing so, we created something special. As paradoxical as it may seem, we have created something new that is also intrinsically old, since it is rooted in our traditions.
The very institutions that make up “Canada” – schools, governments, prisons and more – were superimposed on our peoples and on a land that was already governed by traditional laws. These laws were rejected by newcomers from Europe, but they never went away, even when they were legislated to this effect by colonial governments. Our ways of knowing were forced underground, but continued to be passed on. So if “news” is defined as information you’ve never heard before, then our perspective as Indigenous people most certainly qualifies. Most of “Canada” has yet to hear us.
IndigiNews tells these stories – stories of the land and the people who belong to it.
The myth of objectivity
We would like to address a common misconception in mainstream news media. Whoever says that a storyteller must be “objective”.
The idea of objectivity is not present in the 10 “Elements of Journalism” that so many mainstream media are turning to and learning from. Objectivity in media was introduced when advertising funding models were adopted by media publishers in the 1930s. Journalist and author of The View from Somewhere: Undoing the Myth of Journalistic Objectivity, Lewis Raven Wallace expands on this story and wrote, “In order to appeal to more people, they started presenting themselves as more neutral.
For decades, that meant only white, cis, straight men were trusted to break the “news.” For most of the 20th century, women were rare in industry, and women of color were almost completely absent. As aboriginals, we had no space on the page. Our voices weren’t heard every night on TV. We were told (and still are told) that since we are Indigenous, our storytelling will be biased.
As if the other stories were not.
Allow us to suggest that “information” is inherently manipulative.
As storytellers, we write about the world and the things that happen in it, and we’re supposed to do so pretending we have no opinion about what we’re writing about. It is considered unprofessional to use “reporting” to give an opinion, so often journalists who have their own biases or wish to convey a certain opinion find people who have the same opinions and quote them. Some media are overtly conservative or liberal – this is evident by the voices they amplify and don’t amplify, and who they endorse in elections.
At IndigiNews, we want to share with you the wisdom of our grandmothers and the successes of our loved ones across these lands. Sometimes that means our stories will be about blood relations. We will always clearly identify when this is the case, noting the relationship at the end of our story, or we can just call them family in the story. Either way, we are honored to share our family ties.
To our cuzzins, thank you for taking us into our third year. We now have over 15,000 newsletter subscribers and are delighted with your responses to our weekly newsletter.
As each IndigiNews canoeist dips their paddles into the water to advance the IndigiNews vision, we think carefully about what we bring to the journey ahead.
We ask that you join us as we unload our canoe with our storytellers.
Read Kelsie Kilawna’s storytelling intentions for 2022 here, where she shares her heartfelt account of her struggle with her mental health over the past two years and how it has driven her to dedicate the next year to uplifting her people.
Read Athena Bonneau’s storytelling intentions for 2022 here, where she shares how she has always been a passionate and driven young person steeped in culture and how that will now take shape through her writing.
Read here about Jenessa-Joy Klukas’ storytelling intentions for 2022, where she takes you on a literary journey through her life and how she plans to continue to fuel her passion for writing.
To our Indigenous parents, we raise our hands to honor you and all that you have been through in life. We’re glad you got here. We know it was a long journey, and those of us who survived faced many painful challenges on our journey. We appreciate you hanging out long enough to be with us today. We honor you and your ancestors.
To our non-Indigenous and settler allies, we say aláʔ mi kʷ‿mut (come sit down) with us. We invite you into our stories to learn what you can from them. limt lemt (thank you) for your support. We invite you to help us create a new world – a world in which all of our children are treated with dignity and respect.
At IndigiNews, we come from a place of love. We hope you feel it, dear cuzzins.
Indigenously yours, (eeeeeh)