A University of Regina graduate student says the media needs to rethink the way it covers Aboriginal issues.
Holly McKenzie wrote her Masters thesis on media coverage of missing and murdered Aboriginal women focusing on the Saskatchewan cases of Daleen Bosse and Amber Tara-Lynn Redman.
She says stereotypes of missing and murdered Aboriginal women are often unfairly and inaccurately portrayed in the media.
“When Daleen first went missing, definitely stereotypes about Aboriginal women as irresponsible, partying and prone to drunkenness, definitely that initial coverage, within almost the first year, that was definitely there,” she says.
McKenzie adds media were slow to pick up on both cases and, when they did, failed to provide proper context.
She says inaccurate stereotypes of Aboriginal people often exist in newsrooms at a subconscious level.
As part of her thesis research, McKenzie worked directly with Pauline Muskego – the mother of Daleen Bosse – and Gwenda Yuzicappi – the mother of Amber Tara-Lynn Redman.
Some of the recommendations she makes to improve media coverage include increased efforts by journalists to be sensitive and respectful to Aboriginal family members in these cases and better education at the university level on how to properly report on Indigenous issues.
McKenzie also says journalists need to do more self-reflection and work at building stronger relationships with Aboriginal communities.