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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

Good news hunting

BY Xavier Kataquapit Feb 16, 2022

As an Indigenous person, world news is very confusing and overwhelming for me. The world has always been troubled and now everything is getting more confusing. It is difficult to figure out what is true or false in the news. The way we use social media has complicated reality even more.

Right now, there is news about Russia’s possible invasion of Ukraine, which is being supported by western allies including Canada. In our current age of misinformation, it’s difficult to tell where truth ends, and falsehoods begin. All we can understand is that all the sabre rattling is adding to the possibility of war. The worry is in wondering what a war would look like for the world with major nuclear powers involved. 

It has become a normal part of the news cycle that the Middle East is forever lost in war and conflict. We have become numb to the sad and tragic headlines of African nations. We ignore the inequalities taking place in Southeast Asia. No one bothers to listen to the political and economic troubles taking place in Central and South America. 

Much of these conflicts, wars and tragedies stem from our human greed for natural resources, economic resources and human resources in the form of cheap labour and exploitation of developing nations. What is wrong with us as human beings? Wouldn’t you think at this point in our global civilization we possess a more sane and secure world reality. 

Now we are dealing with the global Covid-19 pandemic. Millions of people have died, millions more have been hospitalized as our lives have been restricted and turned upside down. Most people realize it is a good idea to trust in the world’s scientists, epidemiologists and virologists who are promoting the use of vaccines to keep us from getting extremely sick or dying of Covid. However, there are groups that are hesitant, spreading false information and conspiracies about this pandemic and vaccines and restrictions. Although these groups are small, they are very vocal. The recent demonstrations in Ottawa provide us with examples of how groups can organize in ways that are dangerous for our elected officials and our democracy. 

How do we figure out for ourselves what is real and what is contrived and untrue? 

We should turn to trusted and established media for our information. National television news services like the CBC, CTV News and Global News are run by trained journalists and media professionals who are required by law to follow strict standards in reporting and journalism. They verify their sources and do their best to report the news in a fair and impartial manner. These networks do have content on social media, so it is important to know that any news you see actually comes from them directly. 

It is dangerous to follow unknown and unnamed sources on any social media. Any unverified news story or headline you read on any social media feed that has unknown sources was likely assembled by an individual with little or no training in media or journalism at best and at worst by a malicious group that is actively spreading misinformation. 

Internationally, I trust recognized public news services like Deutsche Welle (DW), France 24, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), as well as well-established international news agencies like Associated Press and Reuters. 

For Indigenous news I watch Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) and read Wawatay News, the Nation, Windspeaker and The First Nations Drum. 

As a democratic nation, the news we are exposed to should be readily available and easy for us to find. We shouldn’t have to search through truth, half-truths, misinformation and lies. Governments must find a way to manage and regulate how news and information flows through the social media we consume. Network television, cable networks, newspapers and news organizations are already heavily regulated to protect everyone from runaway forms of misinformation. Why can’t we do the same for the social media feeds we all read and watch every day? 

We need to be careful with the information we see and read because it is the basis of our democratic society. If we are mindful of the sources we read and watch, we can find our way through the confusion. 

Good news hunting to everyone. 

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Xavier Kataquapit is Cree from Attawapiskat First Nation on the James Bay coast. He is a writer and columnist who has written about his life and Indigenous issues since 1998.