“You ever read Frantz Fanon?”
Patricia Elliott wants to talk about the media in Saskatchewan.
With that in mind, the University of Regina assistant professor of journalism is helping organize the Decolonizing Media public discussion and media fair at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum on Nov. 5.
“For a lot of people, decolonizing media is a fairly new phrase, but the idea is that we have colonial structures in society, and it’s a process of sort of breaking down those colonial structures — decolonizing them, in a way,” Dr. Elliott says.
“There has been a lot of talk about decolonizing universities, for example, or decolonizing court systems. But there hasn’t been a lot of talk about decolonizing media — and media is such a powerful force in our society that this is a really important conversation to be having right now in Saskatchewan.”
The “talkshow/town hall-style” portion of event is to be moderated by Dr. Shauneen Pete and is to feature, among other participants, Indigenous Circle producer Creeson Agecoutay, Treaty 4 News owner and editor Mervin Brass, CTV News assignment editor Nelson Bird, journalist Ntawnis Piapot, and Carmen Robertson, an academic who co-authored Seeing Red: A History of Natives in Canadian Newspapers.
The discussion will focus on what a decolonized media landscape in Saskatchewan would look like, as well as its associated challenges and successes.
“This is a conversation that hasn’t really gotten underway in Saskatchewan in a serious way,” Elliott says. “Decolonizing media is obviously an important issue for our province. We’ve had continual dissatisfaction with how the media has responded to issues for Indigenous people, so the question is, “How do we change the structures and practices of media so that there’s greater involvement in Indigenous issues and more appropriate responses to issues in the community?”
The event is connected to the Media Democracy Project, which since 2001 has hosted the annual Media Democracy Days conference.
“This has been going since 2001, but we’ve never had one in Regina … so it’ll be the first time here,” Elliott says, adding that the idea materialized from a suggestion from Robert Hackett, a Simon Fraser University communication professor.
“I just started asking people in the community generally what they thought of the idea, if it would work for Regina, and how we could localize it,” she says. “And it was pretty clear that the most important local issue here in Saskatchewan is the representation of Indigenous people and Indigenous issues in the media, particularly in the light of missing and murdered Indigenous women and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, so there’s a lot to talk about around those issues. And then also at the same time, there’s been a big rise in Indigenous media globally as a real media force.”
There is definite excitement surrounding the event, Elliott says.
“There’s a really good buzz about this event. People are excited about it, we’re excited about it, and I think everyone is looking forward to it,” she says.
“It’s great when the School of Journalism can be a catalyst for events like this, where we can get students talking about these issues and we can make that connection with the community,” she adds. “I just think that’s a really important thing we need to be doing as often as we can.”
The event is free of charge and all are welcome.