OTTAWA – A news conference was held at the National Press Gallery last Thursday following the set-up of a teepee on Parliament Hill by a grassroots group of indigenous people ahead of Canada Day.
The conference was filmed by CBC News and opened the door for Activist Jocelyn Wabano-Iahtail and a supporting activist to call out a reporter for her tone while asking a question on the subject of Justin Trudeau being held responsible for the death of youth in Northern Ontario.
“How can he be blamed for that? I mean, don’t you think that anything he’s doing is helping the situation? Is he an improvement over Stephen Harper or?” asked the reporter.
Her tone was taken as cynicism by the activists and the following backlash made her claim that her question was very simple, that she wasn’t insinuating anything and that she was innocently vying for information. This prompted Wabano-Iahtail to silence the room with a speech in her language and explain to the reporter the problem with her tone.
“Don’t speak to us that way,” she said. “You’re a guest here and you don’t even know how to speak to us. You don’t even recognize the tone in your voice and your delivery. You’re done.”
Wabano-Iahtail then changed to a male reporter, who re-asked the question in a calmer tone. This prompted a partnering activist to tell the male reporter not to speak on behalf of another, and Wabano-Iahtail to intervene and finally give both reporters their answer.
“For 524 years you’ve been visible, white lady,” said Wabano-Iahtail to the female reporter. “Look how fast your white man steps up for you, where’s everybody else to come and step up for us? I have a right to my voice, and I’m still fighting for my voice — and my visibility.”
“We’re the ones that are dying, it’s not you,” she said. “And as far as how good Justin Trudeau is doing, one of the things that we need to keep in mind is that we’re asking the United Nations to help us on charges of genocide, a war against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression to be laid because your liberal party was responsible.”
Wabano-Iahtail explained to the reporters that every governance that has been in power has allowed the following: Indian residential school, ‘60s scoop, Indian Day School, Millennium Scoop, leaving each governing party with blood on their hands, not just Trudeau.
Before leaving the podium, Wabano-Iahtail again berated the female reporter for her tone and linked it to a “colonial mindset, colonial way of being, white privilege, and the female reporter’s response to being confronted linked to “white fragility.”
She ended by saying: “Without us, you’d be homeless. This is over.”