Will social networking help write the story of the Idle No More Movement

25 Mar

The Idle No More Movement held the attention for much of Canada in January and February of 2013. For many Canadians, it caused us to look at our identities as Canadians both collectively and individually. Although I am the age that in no way gave me any control or influence on the policies and actions of the government, I have been, none-the-less, a spectator in this drama. And drama it is. It’s a story of countless heartaches and not as many successes. But it is a story.


How the movement started and grew is arguably attributed to the use of social media. As an individual I followed blogs, Twitter feeds, and Facebook posts and watched YouTube videos showing peaceful demonstrations. As an individual I felt saddened, ashamed and, angry whenever some of the hurtful past was discussed. Collectively, as a Canadian I felt disempowered to do anything to “right the wrongs” or to stop some of the initiatives (such as Omnibus Bills) that are propelling this movement. Collectively, as a citizen of this planet, I feel like I’m watching media convergence (as Henry Jenkins would describe it) happening around this movement.  Jenkins suggests that, “In the Vietnam War era, it took years to build up the network of underground newspapers, alternative comics and people’s radio stations that supported the antiwar movement.”  (Jenkins p. 36) Although most Canadians would not call the Idle No More Movement a war, many First Nations people in this country feel like they are in a war. It is a war to retain their rights and title. It is a war to retain their children and culture.


Who wins that war might be the one who best looks at how the use of social networking has affected change and what processes need to happen at the same time. Shirky suggests that, “Opinions are first transmitted by the media, and then they get echoed by friends, family members, and colleagues. It is in this second, social step that political opinions are formed. This is the step in which the Internet in general, and social media in particular, can make a difference. As with the printing press, the Internet spreads not just media consumption but media production as well — it allows people to privately and publicly articulate and debate a welter of conflicting views.”

First Nations in Canada need to continue spreading the media production and consumption. This will allow the debate to happen and may eventually shape political opinion and hopefully, policy. I’d like to see a different ending for this story than the one I’ve been told; then the one I see everyday.

Shirky, C. (2011). The political power of social media. Journal of Foreign Affairs, 90(1), 28-41. Retrieved March 14, 2013  from: http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/ehost/detail?sid=b3e18286-93cb-4f20-8fc0-                                     e261bad2deda%40sessionmgr110&vid=2&hid=103&bdata=#db=buh&AN=56624549
Jenkins, H. (2004). The cultural logic of media convergence. Journal of Cultural Studies, 7(1), 33–43. Retrieved March      16, 2013 from: http://ics.sagepub.com.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/content/7/1/33.full.pdf+html


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