Op-ed: 18 years in the news biz
- John Lagimodiere | March 16, 2016
On March 1998 we released the first ever Eagle Feather News. So if you do some quick math you will realize we just became legal in Alberta by turning 18 years old. Who would have thought that we could have pulled that off?
We started out with nothing. Literally nothing. No idea what journalism was and no idea what the publishing industry meant or how cutthroat it was. Nor did we notice the number of tried and failed Aboriginal publications on the landscape, and if we did we might have thought twice about trying. We also had no business plan or any thought as to where we were going to take this little endeavour where a majority of the copy in the first edition were recycled term papers from our efforts to pass Native Studies at the University of Saskatchewan. Maybe our ignorance is why we succeeded.
But we pressed on regardless. Our staff over the years have been treasures. A myriad of writers, sales people, photographers, reception and hangers on have contributed mightily to our survival and growth. There are too many to mention after 18 years. We hope you know who you are and we send you eternal gratitude for all that you have done for us.
It has been interesting to reflect back on the changes or lack of change that we have seen in the community. Our first cover story was on the Clem Chartier election as President of the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan. Facing governance issues and a bit of a sketchy election at that time, the MN-S has never really recovered or flourished since. Recently we have found out that the MN-s is about $725,000 in debt (I had $1.1 million in debt in the pool and it could get there yet as more is expected). The MN-s has been closed since November and is now being operated by a third party. The good news is an MNLA is called for the last weekend in July and an election for September 3rd. Maybe change can happen.
The SaskParty also came into being a few months before we started the paper. After years of NDP rule, the SaskParty has been governing for the past nine years. Neither the SaskParty nor the NDP can claim to be the best friend of the First Nation and Métis voters in Saskatchewan. Lots of inertia under the NDP and the SaskParty is lukewarm on Aboriginal issues at best. Quick, can you name the Minister in charge of Aboriginal affairs? Ha! We knew it. (It is Jim Reiter...surprise!) So, basically Aboriginal issues have been and are still a low political priority in Saskatchewan, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t vote on April 4th. We remind you to get all of your election coverage on our website.
On a positive, the graduation rates of Aboriginal people have grown as has our numbers attending postsecondary education. And last year at this time we hit the mark for the most Aboriginal people working in Saskatchewan ever. For this I give credit to the economy and some begrudging credit to politicians.
Idle No More came and sort of went. We know the mood and the placards are out there but the anger has subsided publically and went to vent on Facebook....until of course Prime Minister Trudeau okays a pipeline. Then look out shopping malls and downtown streets as the round dances and rallies will be a coming!
Where we still need to make progress though is on the social conditions and residential school fall out that have marginalized our women. Missing and murdered women were certainly an issue when we began. It’s just that the scope of the tragedy wasn’t understood and the police and politicians didn’t seem to care.
Now there are advocates, police policies, marches, monuments and entire communities taking this cause to heart and embracing families and protecting women. And finally the federal government is in the process to launch a national inquiry.
We still have way more work to do though because one missing or murdered woman is too much. But the progress we have made is heartening considering where we came from. For our part we promise to continue to cover the issue and support the champions and to keep our March issue dedicated to women, and we hope to continue doing so for many more years.