UPDATED 1700 EST Dec 05/07
In my last article, I talked about our invitation to speak at the University of Waterloo. At about the same time we received the U of W invitation to speak, I was contacted by a journalism student at another university who was working on a senior year project. She wanted to interview me about my views on how the media has covered Caledonia, a subject that is very near and dear to my heart.
We first met on the hill at the Caledonia Lions Park just prior to the start of speeches for our October 08th ‘Remember Us’ March. She was interning with a local journalist covering the event. When I discovered she was a senior journalism student, I mentioned a few of the stories the mainstream media have refused and/or failed to tell about Caledonia, including Dancer’s. I also told her of my plan to write an article one day called, ‘The Dark Days of Canadian Journalism‘ and send it to every journalism school in the country as a reminder of how badly Caledonia and Ipperwash have been failed by the very people who should have been the most vocal about the violations of civil rights by the OPP and the danger these violations pose to Canadian democracy.
After the March was over I followed up by sending her a list of links to the stories I thought the media had missed. Here’s an excerpt from my email:
1. Here is a link to Kevin Steel’s article, “Protection Racket: An Ontario judge glosses over illegal aboriginal acts at Ipperwash.” According to Ipperwash activist Mary-Lou LaPratte, who is quoted extensively, and who helped us produce the Ipperwash Papers project, it was the first time that mainstream media actually got the story right.
2. Here are other stories not covered by mainstream media, most of which we have distributed to hundreds of media contacts:
- https://voiceofcanada.wordpress.com/victimizing-native-people/ (I also attached a copy of my speech from yesterday.)
Our interview took place on Nov 01/07, same day as the University of Waterloo presentation, and lasted several hours. We talked of many things, including my motivation for getting involved, but the most important question she had – from my perspective – was, which story did I think was the most important to be ignored by the media?
She wondered if it was Dancer’s story given my passion about Fantino’s refusal to protect the children on Sixth Line, but I told her instead that the single most important story missed by the Ontario media were the failures in Ipperwash before, during and after Dudley George’s death, and the final cover-up by the Ipperwash Inquiry that we exposed via The Ipperwash Papers at Queen’s Park March 14/07.
Dancer’s story is heartbreakingly important, but her suffering is a direct result of OPP and DND refusal to enforce the law, and the Inquiry’s refusal to tell the truth. When the truths of Ipperwash are finally grasped by those with influence and power, there will be no more Dancers, and that is why I felt it was the most important story of all.
We also talked about my life-long belief that journalists were the ‘watchdogs’ of democracy, and how our experiences in Caledonia shattered that belief. I did, however, comment on how local media such as The Regional, The Sachem and The Chronicle have done a much better job of covering the stories and serving the people of Haldimand than the big outlets with all the resources at their disposal. I think she ‘got it’ so I’m hopeful that her project will make my ‘Dark Days of Canadian Journalism’ article un-necessary. We’ll know sometime in Spring 2008 when her work is published.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed, shall we?
Mark Vandermaas, Editor
Co-founder, Canadian Advocates for Charter Equality
- VoiceofCanada, Nov 13/07: VoC, CWUC speak at University of Waterloo
- Western Standard magazine, July 02/07: Protection Racket: An Ontario judge glosses over illegal aboriginal acts at Ipperwash
- CWUC feature: ‘Remember Us’ March, Oct 08/07 (Check out Gary McHale’s speech about democracy and the media, as well as the positive coverage by local Haldimand outlets)
- The Ipperwash Papers website: www.ipperwashpapers.ca