Aboriginal Advocacy Via Web 2.0 and Social Media

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Criticism of Web 2.0 and Social Media Platforms as constructive activist methods

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There are those that believe the utilization of Web 2.0 and social media platforms are not positive methods of activism and therefore does not advance the cause due to the fact that social media has “created a substantial class of ‘slacktivists’ who…can never truly be nurtured into real activist”(Obar, 2014, p.225) and that Web 2.0 and its various social media platforms actually enables hate speech which in turn perpetuates hate crimes. Activist, Lee Maracle states that the internet is a place of harassment, a place where stereotypes are reinforced and asks her audience, “When does the pillaging of Indians stop?”(Maracle, Nov. 5, 2014, speech, Rodman Hall).

Secondly, others challenge the plurality of roles/labels found within activist groups. For example, Aboriginal activists could be labelled as feminists, human rights, civic, Aboriginal and/or political activist agents. Some argue that multiple markers may in fact blur the lines of a clear-cut concise group movement and that “this plurality impedes[s] the formation of a distinct collective identity”(Caroll and Hacket, 2006, p.33).

Thirdly, current Canadian legislation makes it difficult to prosecute hate speech as there can be a multitude of interpretations of what constitutes hate speech; it is not clearly and concisely defined in the present Canadian Codes and/or Acts.  Under the current Human Rights Act individuals can prosecute others without the police being involved however, there is no recourse for those victimized.  Hate Crimes fall under the jurisdiction of the Criminal Code where police are required to investigate the crime committed, arrest the guilty and support the court system process in order to uphold the laws and protect all Canadian citizens.  However as outlined in the 12 point summary recommendation in the “Stolen Sisters – Discrimination and Violence Against Indigenous Women in Canada, A Summary of Amnesty International’s Concerns (2004, pg.1)” the fourth recommendation directly points to the wrongdoings of police and that the state body should be providing protection for Aboriginal peoples, it states: “Ensure that all police forces in Canada are subject to the jurisdiction of independent civilian bodies able to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by police.”  “Stolen Sisters – Discrimination and Violence Against Indigenous Women in Canada, A Summary of Amnesty International’s Concerns (2004, pg.7)  This recommendation highlights the fact that police are also found of wrongdoing; the wrongdoing of ignorance; the wrongdoing of viewing these missing and murdered Aboriginal women through the eyes of Anglo-Saxon, patriarchal colonization.

Talk by Lee Maracle – Canadian Author and Activist discusses the “Connection between Mother Earth and Violence Against Women”

What are your views regarding the Web 2.0 and social media platforms being used as a vehicle of harassment or for the perpetuation of hate speech or is in fact a supporter and enabler for the Aboriginal movement in their fight for the missing and murdered young Aboriginal women by effectively hindering the hateful racists’ words spoken against minority members of Canadian society?


Carroll, William K. and Robert A. Hackett. Media, Culture & Society, “Democratic media activism through the lens of social movement theory”. 2006., © 2006 SAGE Publications (London, Thousand Oaks and New Delhi), Vol. 28(1): 83–104

Maracle, Lee, speech, “Two days of Canada; 53,785 Days of Colonization,”
Nov. 7th, 2014, Rodman Hall, St. Catharines.

Obar, Johnathon A., “Canadian Advocacy 2.0: An Analysis of Social Media Adoption and Perceived Affordances by Advocacy Goups Looking to Advance Activism in Canada.” Canadian Journal of Communication. 2014 Vol. 39, p211-233


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