December 16, 2010

Amnesty International honors Native reports

Security certificates, the struggle for education in First Nations and the search for missing Aboriginal women were subjects of reports--winners of Amnesty International Canada’s 2010 Media Awards--Media ReleaseIn the video/audio category the winner, in a field of exceptional radio and TV reports, was a moving documentary from reporter Tina House about the loss of Aboriginal women--“APTN Investigates: Missing Women” broadcast on 15 January 2010. Framing the report with the tragic case of the death of her own cousin Tina House illustrates the dismissive attitude of the police and others who failed to address the issue of missing and murdered women. Drawing on reports about the downtown eastside of Vancouver, the Walk for Justice and the legacy of the loss of over 500 women Tina House has put the issue into context in a powerful and effective way.

“The casual attitude reported of the police officer who didn’t file a missing person report leaving it on his desk before rushing to get away for the weekend gnaws at the viewer and sparks outrage,” notes Neve. “With details from her own family, Tina House has careful drawn together all aspects of this critical issue and shown why we all must make it a concern of our own.”

In the local alternative print category the winner is Richard Wright for his article “A National Disgrace” about education on First Nations’ reserves in the January 2010 edition of The United Church Observer. The article explores the history of education on the reserves from the residential schools to “Indian control of Indian education” since 1972 that has created an unequal educational system with federal funding. The “high school completion gap” is now huge, a 60% drop-out rate on reserves compared to 14 % in the rest of Canada. With studies and examples of First Nations really taking control of their education system, Wright shows how as one counselor says “good education is a part of Aboriginal culture now, not apart from it.”

“The legacy of residential schools was a loss of culture and respect for the value of education”, says Neve. “Richard Wright shows that there is still hope that ‘a national disgrace’ can be turned around because as AFN Chief Shawn Atleo notes, ‘it is fundamental in civil society that all people be well educated.’”
Comment:  For more on the victimized women, see Media Ignores Victimized Native Women and 500 Red Dresses for Victimized Women. For more on Native journalism, see Native Documentaries and News.

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