Masaru Oku, father of one of the seven high school students killed in the March 2017 avalanche in Nasu, Tochigi Prefecture, says he is torn over identifying crime and accident victims by name: He wants to grieve silently without having to deal with the media by staying autonomous, but he also feels the story will be more powerful if the victims are named.
“Our son’s name, Masaki was publicized regardless of my wishes,” Oku said, in a recent interview. “If I had been given a choice, I would have refused to agree to release his name. Losing a child is the biggest sorrow for parents. Immediately after the accident, I felt like the grief was so great that I would literally bleed when I heard even a few words mentioned about him.”
The avalanche struck on a ski slope during a mountaineering workshop for more than 40 people, mostly high school students, on the morning of March 27. Seven students and a teacher from Otawara High School were killed and many others were injured. Masaki was in his first year and a member of the school’s mountaineering club.
Three teachers leading the workshop were suspended after the accident. In March, police handed their papers to prosecutors, accusing them of professional negligence causing death and injuries.
“I had a preconception of the media as the enemy, fearing they would disrupt our lives and write half-truths about our son. It pained me to hear people who didn’t even know him say he was an unhappy and unfortunate boy,” Oku said.
But he also admitted feeling envious after reading accounts about the other families involved. He accepted what he assumed would be the first and last interview request, on Masaki’s birthday in June 2017.
“I wanted to leave something behind to prove our son had lived, just like the other students,” he said. It was the first time he had offered to disclose his son’s name.
The mountaineering club resumed activities three months after the avalanche.
Oku, who co-leads an association formed by the families of the seven dead students, agreed to be interviewed by Kyodo because he distrusts the prefectural board of education, which allowed the club to resume its activities without finding effective measures against such accidents.
“I was afraid our son’s death would be in vain. To give power to words of appeal, the names should be released,” he said.
After the accident, news reports about the character of the victims and their grief-stricken families were criticized “probably because the purpose of the news coverage wasn’t clear,” Oku said.
“I can understand how reporting aimed at asking whether mountaineering as an extracurricular activity should be permitted or if examining the accident itself could be meaningful. But it’s hard to understand the reasoning behind the need to report on the victim’s character, which won’t be that meaningful for people other than their families.”
Asked about the arson attack on the Kyoto Animation Co. studio in July, Oku felt that media outlets were focusing on how harshly they died by repeatedly showing the charred ruins on TV.
“Given the shock the families were going through, I can understand why they would refuse to let the victims’ names to go public.”
Elaborating on his perspective, Oku explained that if the majority of the media reports were critical of him or his son, he would still be highly reluctant to having his son’s name used in news coverage.
“But since speaking with reporters, I have come to trust the media.”
Publishing the names of victims is necessary as long as it is accurate, he stressed.
“But since it’s difficult for families to trust the media immediately after a tragedy, the media should make certain considerations. I think the stance of the media is being tested,” he said.
Kelowna wood-burning artist utilizes social media during pandemic – iNFOnews
Using the power of social media, a Kelowna-based artist is keeping busy during the pandemic.
Samm Moore specializes in wood burning, using her toolkit to etch designs of B.C. wildlife and landscapes into the Douglas fir, pine and other varieties of wood. She even has her designs on skis and skateboard decks.
At first, Moore said COVID-19 threw her “for a loop,” as she planned on selling wares at spring markets which were cancelled. But with Etsy, an online seller platform, she’s able to ship her creations across the globe.
“It’s such a cool way to connect everyone. If I was selling wood burnings in the Kelowna area then I probably wouldn’t make enough money,” she said.
It’s a requirement nowadays for artists to use social media, she said, as galleries can be expensive for artists and challenging to get into. She’s reliant on online platforms for a majority of her orders, which have returned to normal, Moore said.
“Most of my orders come from social media, Facebook, Instagram and Etsy and from my website so I find the more active I am on social media, the more orders I get,” Moore said.
Over the years, she started with only one or two orders a month, but that’s snowballed and she’s been able to fulfil her dream working as a full-time artist, although balancing wood burning with social media and the business aspect of being her own boss is a lot of work, she said.
“On the days I’m not feeling too productive I could wood burn for hours. I think of it like a meditation, I zone out and it’s really calming,” Moore said.
She discovered wood burning while attending Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Moore borrowed a friend’s wood-burning tool for the project that was meant for artists to experiment with different formats they haven’t used before, and she fell in love with it.
“I remember instantly being like ‘This is awesome. This is so fun’ I loved working with the wood and the smell… I really enjoyed it,” she said.
As a child, growing up in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island, she found her love of drawing by copying Calvin and Hobbes books. Prior to wood burning, she was accustomed to sketching.
Many of her drawings are inspired by living near the ocean and mountains of B.C. and she’s lived in various locations around the province. It reminds her of home, she said.
“I’d love to do a wood burning of (Okanagan Lake,)” she said.
Moore said her busiest time is Christmas, which she’s looking forward to and she’s preparing to have items for those last-minute buyers.
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Three charged with intimidation for social media post – My North Bay Now
A social media post has led to three people being charged by North Bay police for Intimidation of a Justice Participant.
Police began an investigation in August to look into the intimidation of someone involved in a court case. Police say that someone who provided information to an ongoing court case had been the subject of a social media post that garnered negative comments, creating a safety concern.
Constable John Schultz says that it was the negative comments on the social media post that warranted investigation.
“Part of what the individual had provided as information, [the accused] posted that information online. That in and of itself may or may not be an offence, but it’s the way they posted it and the fact that it created a lot of feedback that created a safety concern for this person,” Schultz said.
As a result of the investigation, a 54-year-old woman from North Bay, a 42-year-old woman from East Ferris and a 42-year-old man from Powassan have all been charged with one count each of Intimidation of a Justice Participant.
Schultz says that the three people charged “worked together” on the social media post. He was unable to comment on what the court case is as it is still ongoing, and says that the social media post hasn’t impacted the case “at this point”.
Schultz says that Intimidation of a Justice Participant is not a commonly-used charge by North Bay police.
“The charge has been laid here in North Bay another time, but I’ve been involved in policing for 36 years and I’ve never laid it. It doesn’t happen too often,” he said.
The importance of the charge, however, is significant. Schultz says that the charge is in place to protect the court system.
“If you’re going to be involved in a court case, no matter who you are, you should not feel afraid because you’re involved in a court case,” he explained. “If you intimidate somebody to a point where they’re concerned, maybe they’ll recant on their statement.”
Scott Tod, Chief of the North Bay Police Service, also stresses the importance of the charge.
“Public confidence in our courts being ethical and trustworthy means police have the added responsibility of identifying and charging people who try to intimidate or threaten a person involved in our judicial process. North Bay Police Service, like all our provincial and national policing partners, will vigorously investigate these types of offences that protect the integrity of our judicial system,” Tod said in a statement.
The two women who were charged will appear in North Bay court on October 20, with the man set to appear on November 3.
Mi'kmaw journalist assesses media coverage of fisheries dispute – CBC.ca
Some media coverage of tension between Mi’kmaw and non-Indigenous fishermen, like what’s happening right now in Saulnierville, N.S., fails to tell the true story, says Trina Roache.
She’s a long-time journalist with APTN News who has covered the implications of the 1999 Marshall decision for years. The historic ruling recognized a First Nations’ right to earn a moderate living from fishing but the government has never defined what that means.
Last year, Roache released a documentary on the 20th anniversary of the Marshall decision asking what had changed.
Now, she’s covering the same tensions in Saulnierville where the Sipekne’katik First Nation launched their moderate livelihood fishery on Thursday. It’s being opposed by non-Indigenous fishermen who’ve cut traps and paraded their boats around the harbour in protest.
Roache spoke with host CBC Mainstreet host Jeff Douglas about what the journalist can do to better report on Indigenous issues and why an understanding of the treaties is so important.
Their conversation has been edited for clarity and length.
In general, are we driving you nuts?
A little bit, to be honest. A little bit.
It’s a story I’ve spent a lot of time on, and then sometimes when I read the headlines and when I see the mainstream coverage, it’s frustrating because there’s an imbalance sometimes or a language that happens in the coverage that to me creates a narrative that the Mi’kmaw are doing something wrong, which isn’t the case.
Can you give us an indication of some of that coverage or the imbalance?
The Mi’kmaq, they have a right. The Supreme Court of Canada decided in the Marshall decision that they agree, yes, the Mi’kmaq have a treaty right to make a living from fishing and hunting and gathering. They came out with the term “moderate livelihood,” didn’t define it, so it’s a little confusing. But they upheld that treaty right.
And so the problem is, is that when we call it an illegal fishery, that’s only because the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has not implemented their own law, like they haven’t addressed the Marshall decision to date. So there are no rules to govern a moderate livelihood fishery. And so in the eyes of DFO, it might be an illegal fishery, but in fact, the Mi’kmaq have a legal right, a constitutional right to go fish and make a living.
Chief Terry Paul also said that they have been waiting for essentially 21 years for DFO and for some sort of governance.
The Mi’kmaq are doing that work themselves. And that’s what you’re seeing today down in Saulnierville, near Digby. The Sipekne’katik First Nation in particular is down there issuing these moderate livelihood licences. They’ve got a management plan, they’re celebrating the anniversary of the Marshall decision, you know, kicking off this moderate livelihood with ceremony, the Grand Council’s there. This is not an illegal fishery. They have every legal right to do what they’re doing.
The Mi’kmaq are not protesting. So, again, we have to be very careful of the words we use when we’re describing what’s happening. But the protest part is that the non-Mi’kmaw fishermen down there are out on the water in their boats and trying to sort of stymie the Mi’kmaq, and not allow them to drop their traps or maybe cut their traps and not allow them to sort of carry out this moderate livelihood fishery. So that’s the protest part.
In addition to language use, like substituting the word protest instead of celebration or ceremony, illegal fishery, is there just a lack of understanding surrounding treaty issues?
We have a really important job in providing that balanced view. You sort of have the tenets of journalism, right? We all want to do fair, balanced, accurate, objective reporting. And as an Indigenous journalist, well, that’s what I do, too. And so sometimes what can happen, though, I think, is that we sort of assume that somehow mainstream journalism, predominantly white journalism, that is just sort of unbiased … Because I’ve been asked, well, how do you keep your journalism from turning into advocacy? And I’m like, that’s a terrible question, because you’re making an assumption somehow that because I’m Mi’kmaw reporting on Mi’kmaw issues that I can’t be fair and accurate and balanced.
And instead, when CBC or other media are calling this fishery an illegal fishery or keep referring to it within the report as this illegal fishery, to me that’s bias, right? That betrays an inherent bias in the reporting and not including enough Mi’kmaw voices. If you’re going to do a story about the Mi’kmaw, you have to make sure you’re talking to the Mi’kmaw. And you have to make sure that if you’re going to do a story about this, I hope you’ve read the treaties … So even if you’re not going to do Indigenous stories, as a journalist in Canada or wherever, you should know the history of the land that you’re standing on.
To be dismissive or refer to it as an illegal fishery is really covering over all this backstory and history and this treaty relationship that’s very important and really matters today. The treaties might have been signed before but they still count today, and if we’re going to report on these stories then we really need to understand what it means.
Going back to your point about where people get their information from, particularly on Indigenous issues, it’s from us and so we are then mis-educating, inadvertently?
It’s true because we do play an important role in just public information … I was thinking of this earlier because the battle cry of the non-Mi’kmaw fishermen or fish harvesters back in 2000 after the Marshall decision came down was they’re going to ruin the lobster stocks. I mean, I remember hearing that again and again on the wharves from fishermen up near Burnt Church: the Mi’kmaq are going to ruin the lobster stocks.
And you still hear that today … and so as a journalist, sometimes, like, you have to question and educate yourself and question DFO so that the listener has a full picture and education because it’s misinformation. They haven’t ruined the lobster stocks in 21 years. What the Mi’kmaw do is a drop in the bucket compared to the commercial fishery … There’s only conflict when there’s money at stake, right? This is a multi-billion dollar industry, and so there’s a lot at stake. When inherent rights butt up against Canadian interests, that’s when it’s a problem.
Everyone can be nice and talk about reconciliation and all that nice stuff, but it’s when we butt up against the larger interests that you start to see the media sort of breakdown in how it’s reporting on these issues.
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