Aboriginal Advocacy Via Web 2.0 and Social Media

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TWITTER – A social media platform for aboriginal activism – #AMINEXT

Web 2.0 and social media provides Aboriginal groups and individuals alike an opportunity to challenge the non-Aboriginal Canadian citizenship, the state, its institutions and humanity at large thus creating an opportunity for all to join forces and push for social change. For example, the very recent, (September, 2014), Aboriginal movement ‘#AMINEXT’ was spearheaded by a single individual, Holly Jarrett, who is urging people to “demand a public inquiry from Prime Minister Stephen Harper into the 1,181 cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women nationwide.” Today, Jarrett’s virtual news report has 237 shares; shares are Aboriginal young women posts that support Jarrett’s cause and who have displayed their photo with a hand-drawn statement billboard; additionally the site also boasts 272 comments. This demonstrates the impact of ‘one’ on Web 2.0 versus the traditional face to face protests.

A group of us got together today to take a picture to contribute to the #AmINext? Campaign. We care…  http://instagram.com/p/s0vnc4DDwQ

A group of us got together today to take a picture to contribute to the #AmINext? Campaign.
We care… http://instagram.com/p/s0vnc4DDwQ

Through the use of the eight virtual affordances: “visibility, persistence, editability, association, commenting, accessibility, viewability and validation”(Obar,2012,p.212), advocacy groups see Web 2.0 and social media as the democratizing vehicle needed to strengthen their virtual advocacy campaigns.

The first, visibility; enhances the Aboriginal advocates’ ability to make their “behaviours, knowledge, preferences and communication network connections visibility” (Obar, 2014, P. 215) to both private and public sectors of the Aboriginal and non-aboriginal global Web 2.0 communities.

Persistence, the second attribute, enables consistency.  The viewers/users see a consistent product and are able to revisit the site and see the same message over and over.

The third, editability; “suggests that Web 2.0 interfaces often allow individuals to write and rewrite material before publishing online” (Obar, 2014, p.215).  Web 2.0 provides users with the abilities to “search, browse, annotate, repackage, mashups,” (Obar, 2014, p. 215) create wikis, provide comments, build webpages and blogs, and create memes et certa.

Association, the fourth, refers to the various digital relationships the Aboriginal Activists’ create and build online, such as: the establishment of “person-to-person, person-to-content, content-to-content,” (Obar, 2014, p. 215)  activist-to-state, and activist-to-humanity.

The fifth, commenting; allows for the advancement of dialogue between the creator-to-user and between user-to-user thus developing the communication network which helps to advance the knowledge and understanding of all parties participating in the digital dialogue(s).

The sixth, accessibility; allows for a “structured interaction through limited and directed forms of access to [the] content and services.” (Obar, 2104, p.215)  For example, although anyone may be able to view the content and comments on the majority of Aboriginal web sites one must ‘sign-in’ with an email address and/or password to physically access the site.  This may deter a significant amount of hate speech and should someone utilize the site for the use of spreading hate speech or make threatening comments the individual’s IP address would identify them.  Although this is not a full-proof method, it is a deterrent.  Another interesting Web 2.0 phenomenon that supports activism occurs when other users ‘shut down haters’ in support of the advocacy group therefore stifling the voice of the ‘hater’ and reinforcing the voice of the creator.

The seventh claim, viewability; touched on previously “allows users to view aspects of content that would otherwise be restricted.” (Obar, 2014, p. 215)

Finally, validation; “an enhanced ability to work toward content accuracy” (Obar, 2014, p. 215).  Accuracy comes in the form of users viewing the content and using their accessability to ensure the data being shared is accurate and if it is not the user is able to ‘comment’ and inform the creator of the discrepancy.  Clay Shirky (2008, p.20) suggests that “we are living in the middle of a remarkable increase in our ability to share, to cooperate with one another, and to take collective action, all outside the framework of traditional institutions and organization.”

Web 2.0 and social media provides advocacy groups and individuals alike an opportunity to have a voice and to have that voice heard by Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals alike. As the use of Web 2.0 and its social media platforms as advocacy tools continues to evolve and as media types multiply, it is important that new empirical research continues to assess the effectiveness and extent that virtual technologies facilitate social change against hate crimes and hate speech and thus eliminate the Canadian crisis of Aboriginal missing and murdered women.

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Refute to previous blog entry – Empirical evidence – Web 2.0/Social Media Advocacy success

PhD – Jonathon Obar
Assistant Professor
Bordessa Hall, Room 306
905.721.8668 ext. 5883

The following statistical charts, as outlined in Dr. Jonathon Obar’s (J.Obar,2014, pg.1-2) analysis of 63 Canadian advocacy groups, finds that the groups utilize Facebook, Twitter and YouTube the most. 52% of all groups surveyed use Facebook daily, 57% uses Twitter daily and of the remaining technologies, blogs are used most frequently.
Therefore the use of social media on Web 2.0 definitely provides advocacy groups with several communication options to reach their targeted audiences

Obar surveyed more than 50 advocacy groups operating in Canada to learn more about how they use social media to further their causes. Some highlights:
Fifty-four of 56 groups use social media to interact with the public (the outliers: the Fur Institute of Canada and the Louis Even Institute for Social Justice).
– Most groups use Facebook (54 of 56) and Twitter (50 of 56). YouTube is also popular (75%) as are blogs (52%).
– Fifty-two percent use Facebook every day; 30 percent use it a few times a week.
– Fifty-seven percent use Twitter every day and an additional 22 percent tweet a few times a week. Of the remaining technologies, blogs are used most often, with five of 56 groups blogging every day and an additional 11 blogging a few times a week.
– Most groups use YouTube a few times a month.
– All 56 organizations send emails to the general public (Feminist Majority Foundation sends emails to 170,000 individuals a few times a week). The majority of groups send emails a few times a week or less, with only three of 56 sending emails once a day or more.
– Email and Facebook were the preferred methods of communication for most tasks. Regardless of Facebook’s ranking, Twitter almost always followed, and blogs were usually the next most popular. Google+ ranked last in all categories.

Source – pg. 223

Source – pg. 223

The virtual ‘revolution’ is here and is being fought in a new soapbox arena, Web 2.0 and social media.  Today’s activism is found on-line, out in the open and in the face of those that perpetrate hate crimes and hate speech and of those who are ignorant of the Canadian missing and murdered Aboriginal women crisis.  Aboriginal virtual activism is challenging those in political power who have the ability to protect all Canadians from hate crimes and hate speech and mandate that unconstitutional actions will no longer be tolerated in Canada.

– See more at: http://alanmorantz.com/social-media-used-by-advocacy-groups/#sthash.bUIUHQNl.dpuf

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

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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Collective Social Media Communities – STOP THE VIOLENCE

Those that are like-minded now have the ability to gather online regardless of distance, socio-economic backgrounds, education, age or gender and mobilize forgotten knowledge through Aboriginal collective culture communities. Web 2.0 and its social media platforms enable its activist members to reach out to each other for support, guidance or to protest as a collective against the state, as is the case with the missing and murdered aboriginal women. Web 2.0 also provides individuals with an avenue of sharing their single voice within the collective through the use of their virtual words and/or personal art. It provides Aboriginal groups and individuals alike an opportunity to challenge the non-Aboriginal Canadian citizenship, the state, its institutions and humanity at large thus creating an opportunity for all to join forces and push for social change.

Research of advocacy groups showed that they “felt strongly that social media offer[ed] a variety of unique communication opportunities for facilitating civic engagement and collective action [by]: 1) helping groups to strengthen outreach efforts; 2) enable engaging feedback loops; 3) increasing the speed of communication, and 4) being cost-effective,”(Obar, 2014, p.214) which enables and facilitates the historical and contemporary sharing of Aboriginal  forbidden culture and knowledge.  Web 2.0 has become the vehicle of today’s Aboriginal activists’ in their demand of political social change in order to protect their young women from becoming a murdered or missing statistic.

Recently, the Aboriginal movement ‘#AMINEXT’ was spearheaded by a single individual, Holly Jarrett, who is urging people to “demand a public inquiry from Prime Minister Stephen Harper into the 1,181 cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women nationwide” (Thomson, CBC News, Sept.13,2014).  Today, Jarrett’s virtual news report has 237 shares; shares are Aboriginal young women posts that support Jarrett’s cause and who have displayed their photo with a hand-drawn statement billboard; additionally the site also boasts 272 comments.  This demonstrates the positive impact of ‘one’ on Web 2.0 and social media versus the traditional face to face protests.

Have you ever thought about starting your own movement regarding a social issue?  What activism method would you utilize and why?  Do you think the use of social media can actually influence society for the betterment of all citizens?


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Social Media Activism – ‘NELLIE’S’ reports on the impact of Social Media

Social Media Activism was duly noted by ‘Nellie’s’, a Canadian Women’s Shelter, reported on December 10th, 2011, Human Rights Day, that the event’s agenda covered the “transformative power of social media, and how tools like Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and instant messaging are transforming ordinary people into human rights activists. Over the past 6 months at Nellie’s, we have experienced firsthand the power of social media to communicate and engage with our supporters online through our Twitter, Facebook, and blogs and we believe that social media is a great tool to advance important causes.”

Nellies: Shelter, Education and Advocacy for all women and children. “Human Rights Day and Aboriginal Women in Canada Social Media Activism.” December 10th, 2011. http://www.nellies.org/tag/social-media-activism/

Aboriginal young women are being social media activists through their writings that are being shared through social media. One such example is First place winner of the 2014 Aboriginal Arts& Stories Junior Writing Category.
Seen bottom left of picture, Andrea Lanouette, 16, from Surrey B.C. wrote, “Tears”. The young artist states:
“The goal I had in mind when I was writing this piece was not to make it too depressing. I knew the likelihood of having a happy ending was small, but I wanted to express a variety of emotions. The most obvious way to follow through with that was to make it a love story. I wanted to turn the faces of the women we see on the news who died hitchhiking on Highway 16 into characters we could relate to and love. I wanted my readers to remember that the victims had lives, and friends, and families just like ours. I also wanted to make this a tribute to the loved ones of the Native women who passed so horrifically, because it must be awful to have someone torn away from you so suddenly.”

Review Andrea’s work at http://www.our-story.ca/winners/writing/5036:tears

The use of Web 2.0 and social media absolutely promotes contemporary activism while enhancing traditional methods of activism such as group protests.  Aboriginal group protests are now videoed and shown online for all Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal to view and comment or blog.  Web 2.0 and social media has empowered Aboriginal activists and it is these contemporary progressive movements that will ultimately force the necessary social changes required to stop (utopia) hate crimes and hate speech in Canada.

What is your opinion regarding social media activism, will it make a difference?

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Award winning Canadian Hip Hop Artist, Joey Stylez – Discusses what the impact of the Residential School System

Canadian Hip Hop Artist - Highway of Tears

Canadian Hip Hop Artist – Highway of Tears

Joey Stylez – is a First Nations Canadian singer-songwriter, rapper, hip-hop artist, First Nations activist, fashion designer.
Birth name: Joseph Dale Marlin Laplante
Born: May 14, 1981 (age 33)
Origin: Saskatchewan, Canada
Genres: Hip hop, Rap, Street Pop
Years active: 2001–present
Labels: Universal, Sony, Stressed Street, Flight Academy Music
Associated acts: Swagg Boss, Ty Dolla Sign, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, A Tribe Called Red, Moka Only, Winnipeg’s Most, SDK
Website: joeystylez.com

“Kill the Indian in the Child” (Hanson and Crey, 2009, Residential School Section)  – The Residential School System

One example of Canadian inhumanity, in which the effects are still felt to this very day, was the implementation of the residential school system.  This school system strategically and systematically ravaged First Nations culture and destabilized Aboriginal families for generations. These ‘students’ experienced not only the loss of their ownership of the land, their language and culture but also the loss of a caring and nurturing family structure and therefore grew up without learning how to nurture and care for their own families. “Because the government’s and the churches’ intent was to eradicate all aspects of Aboriginal culture in these young people and interrupt its transmission from one generation to the next, the residential school system is commonly considered a form of cultural genocide” (Hanson and Crey, 2009, Residential School Section).

Thirty four year old Jon-C (Billy Pierson), lead for the ‘Winnipeg’s Most’ famous award winning Aboriginal hip hop band, speaks to this “cultural genocide”  (Hanson and Crey, 2009, Residential School Section) on a CBC documentary shared on YouTube.  Jon-C’s Grandmother and Mother were victims of the residential schools.  He states, “That everything comes back to residential schools.  Current parents do not know how to parent; 3 generations now do not know how to parent” (Kinew, Sept.6,2014,CBC Documentary, “Indigenous in the City”).  This breakdown of generational family structures, as experienced by John-C, perpetuates the detrimental dysfunctional contemporary Aboriginal family structure and thus creates a dystopian culture; a culture typified by human despair and suffering which squeezes the life out of any opportunities of aboriginal youth today and continues to destroy not restore their imaginations and hope for the future.

Lee Maracle, (Nov. 5th, 2014, Talk, Rodman Hall), states: “that colonization always blames the victim and that non-aboriginal’s language and phrases preserve and propagate Aboriginal family structure breakdowns. She continues to state that white people don’t get it and by telling aboriginal people to “get over it!” is impossible as one cannot ‘get over’ something that continues to impact, influence, inhibit, censor and inflict violence against aboriginal people and the environment to this very day, every day.


Listen to Joey’s – “Highway of Tears” in an effort to create awareness of Canadian Aboriginal missing or murdered women along a 800 kilometer stretch of Canadian Highway 16, known as the ‘Highway of Tears’

The Walking with our Sisters Exhibit

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The Walking with Our Sisters Exhibit – Jan 9 through to Jan 24, 2015 – Yellowknife

This is an Aboriginal activist movement in Canada.  Various people created moccasin vamps, ‘tops’ representing over 1808 creations representing Canada’s Aboriginal missing or murdered women.



This blog will discuss the specific Aboriginal activist discourse art in tribute of Canada’s missing and murdered Aboriginal women and how through the use of Web 2.0  and social media Aboriginal activists are not only further empowered; non-aboriginal people are given the ability to view Aboriginal civic movement through an Aboriginal lens.  One extremely important facet of the Aboriginal lens is their relationship with art and this specific blog will display one art form that is being utilized to create an awareness and pay homage to Canada’s missing and murdererd Aboriginal women.

Various Aboriginal art forms that advance the mandate of “no more stolen sisters” are now readily found on Web 2.0 and/or social media and have now become “part of the landscape…and the lack of freedom and oppression is over…it is time to restore imagination” (Maracle, YouTube, 2014, Truth and Reconciliation Talk).  This blog argues that Web 2.0 and social media has enabled and advanced Lee Maracle’s desire to ‘restore [the] imagination’ of Aboriginal and non-aboriginal people and through the sharing of activism on the internet will indeed enable mobilization of the oppressed, promote freedom of expression, awareness and enable democracy one blog, one text, one song, one student’s essay, one oil painting, one crafted “faceless doll” or one “beaded moccasin” at a time.

Volunteer Aboriginal civic social change activist groups, such as; Red Robe Women drumming group, strive to deal with the losses of culture, language, their young women, socio-economic disparities and perils resulting from the narrow and short-sightedness of the Canadian state and its people through the art of drumming and singing. These activist actions and their loud, clear voices have been deliberately been captured on dozens of YouTube videos so that they may be shared with the private and public sectors in the hopes of shattering the ignorance and racism found in contemporary society. Their drumming; solid and strong, speaks to their determination to promote social change in a positive manner through art. They drum and sing to celebrate the lives of the missing and murdered members of their sisterhood, to the protection of our environment, to the enforcement of human rights, socio-economic justice and peace for all minority communities.