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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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?

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.

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Stop the Violence – Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women – when will it be enough!

“Am I Next? Is he watching me now?

Stalking me like a predator and its prey.

Waiting, waiting for some perfect spot,

time or my stupid mistake.

How does one choose a victim?

Good question, isn’t it?

If I knew that, I would never get snuffed.”

-written and shared on social media by Sarah de Vries, Dec. 1995,

prior to her abduction and murder

26 years old

Went missing April, 1998.

Found Murdered, August 6, 2002 in Port Coquitlam

Source – (Stolen Sisters, 2004,  p.29)

Invisible, isolated and dehumanized, Canadian Indigenous women are seen as “vicious stereotypes born of ignorance and aggression”(No More Stolen Sisters, 299, p. 5)  and are nothing but “objects with no human value beyond sexual gratification” (No More Stolen Sisters, 299, p. 5).   Hate crimes, hate speech and the denial of human rights and freedoms are the historical fabric which has been deeply and tightly woven into each Aboriginal person’s autobiography and continues to have extremely detrimental impacts on the members of our First Nations people and in particular, Canada’s aboriginal women.  Hate crimes such as the incident reported on January 2, 2013 in Thunder Bay, Ontario. “A sexual assault of a [unnamed] native woman in northwestern Ontario that is being investigated as a hate crime has thrown fresh fuel on the fires of discontent being expressed in protests and demonstrations by first nation’s people across Canada” (Galloway, Globe and Mail, January 2, 2013, 11:00PM).  Hate speech such as: “They called her squaw and dirty Indian as she was walking and they were throwing things at her from the car, pieces of garbage and cans,” said Christi Belcourt, a noted Canadian artist who is a friend of the alleged victim and is speaking on her behalf” (Galloway, Globe and Mail, January 2, 2013, 11:00PM).   Similar incidents in combination with the denial of their freedoms and rights have created a precarious environment of fear, anger and frustration for these women.

Aboriginal women are justifiably angry and frustrated at the fact that they are becoming an “endangered species” (M. Beech, WordPress, Mar. 24, 2010) through the ignorance and inaction of those that have the responsibility and ability of enforcing and protecting the rights and freedoms of all Canadians.