Controlling the message is key and this is something John Lagimodiere tries to teach to Indigenous organizations.

Lagimodiere runs Aboriginal Consulting Services and was speaking last night in Saskatoon as part of a presentation on Indigenous governance.

He says when he gives media training to Aboriginal organizations, he stresses the importance of getting your message out early whether it be through a press release or social media like Facebook.

“You’ll see when a chief and council are trying to get something through to the community about a land vote, or whatever — when opposition comes, it comes in as vitriolic and it’s loud, and sometimes it’s uninformed.  But if they say it loudly enough and madly enough, after awhile it becomes ‘the facts’. So, bands and leaders have to get out ahead of that, and use proper communication channels,” he says.

Lagimodiere, who also owns and operates Eagle Feather News, also offers Aboriginal sensitivity training to a number of Saskatchewan organizations.

He says as part of his work with various provincial organizations, he first tries to give some historical context of the various challenges Aboriginal people face — such as marginalization by the Indian Act and problems created by residential schools.

“Once people understand the context of and why things are the way they are, people kind of have the lights turn on and from there they are more receptive or amenable to solutions coming forward,” he says.

Tracey Mitchell of Next Up, which organized the event, says the focus of the event was on learning what skills Indigenous people like Lagimodiere are currently using to be successful in their communities.

“We really wanted to not only have a focus on some issues we need to learn about from Indigenous people and Indigenous communities but also what are some of the skills Indigenous leaders are using that we can learn from,” she says.

Mitchell says Next Up is a leadership training program for people 18 to 30 years of age involved in environmental and social justice issues.

The event took place at Station 20 West.