I spent 50 years in the newspaper business as a reporter, editor and publisher at weeklies and dailies in all four western provinces.
Throughout my career I witnessed up close the disconnect between aboriginal people and the non-native society. Becoming familiar with aboriginal history, culture and traditions will surely go a long way in helping to bridge the disconnect. There has been mistrust, anger, suspicion, frustration and fear from both sides toward the other. Positive steps are being taken to narrow the gap but much more needs to be done.
For too long the aboriginal community has been stereotyped by negative stories carried in newspapers, TV, and social media. The stories often focus on protests, confrontations, alcohol and drug abuse, financial scandals, fires, gun violence, murders, thefts, assaults, and missing persons on First Nations reserves. Other disturbing stories include poverty, unemployment, poor drinking water, delapidated housing, terrible roads, lack of educational opportunities, truancy, child runaways, etc.
But it hasn’t all been negative. There are many aboriginal success stories. Among them: pow wows, rodeo cowboys, accomplished athletes, entrepreneurs, business ventures, artists, lawyers, judges, journalists, musicians, craft makers, politicans, etc.
To improve the relationship between aboriginal people and non-natives, attitudes need to change.
The challenge is ours to take.