The media and the fear factor: Conning Canadians and demonizing Indigenous People

From the Atlantic to the Pacific, the Indigenous Nations are fighting for their rights, identity, land and resources. The assault by the state at all levels in collusion with the monopoly media on the Indigenous peoples is an assault on the democratic rights all Canadians, as sovereigntist leaders have been warning for years. “The Indigenous people are the canary in the coal mine.” – TS

Presentation by Kahn-Tineta Horn, Kahnawake, Mohawk Territory Indigenous People’s Solidarity Rally, Montreal, June 19, 2004

I’m here today to give you a warning. I want to tell you about what’s happening at Kanehsatake because what’s happening there is a direct threat to the future of your children and my grandchildren. If we want to protect the future of the next seven generations, we have to act now and we have to act together.

You may not know it or you may have noticed and you’re afraid to say:

Canadians are losing their rights and freedoms. Riding on the coat-tails of the United States, Canada has begun a descent into despotism. The Indigenous people are the canary in the coal mine. What’s happening to us will happen to you. So you need to get informed and you need to keep informed.

The people of Kanehsatake have been subjected to a smear campaign of innuendos and disinformation. They have been demonized in the press and painted as criminals. They have been denied the use of their democratically constituted institutions. Voting lists have been padded with the consent of a foreign tribunal. Community assets have passed into the possession of private companies and shady characters while public money that should have been used for community services like education and health care have disappeared. Demands for a forensic audit have been ignored while public attention was diverted by the imposition of a paramilitary militia on the promise of $900,000 of Canadian funds. When community members protested, they were charged with creating a public disturbance while a high flying PR firm was being paid $3 million to make things look good.

And the Canadian people said nothing.

How could this happen?

It happened because of the fear factor. It happened because the Canadian people are afraid of the people who are still called “Indians” in the illegal Indian Act. It happened because judges, lawyers and police are afraid and so they let themselves be manipulated. It happened because the media are afraid to report the truth.

It happened because the Canadian people didn’t know how their hard-earned tax-dollars were being spent.

Just think about it.

Where do we turn to find out what is going on?

We turn to the media.

A couple of centuries ago people had to wait months to find out what was going on somewhere else. They had to wait for leaky wooden ships to cross the ocean and runners to emerge from trails through the bush.

Today we live in what is called “the information age.” We have radio. We have television, internet, cell phones and e-mail. We are bombarded with what’s called news from every direction.

Yet most people don’t know anything about what is happening at Kanehsatake – a town situated just a few minutes drive outside one of the largest cities in Canada, Montreal.

Why is this happening? Why aren’t Canadians getting the news?

The first thing we have to look at is WHO OWNS THE MEDIA?

The media today have just about all come under the control of the same big business interests that have taken control of the government.

In the 1960s and 70s it was the press that brought down Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. It was the press that led the public to see what was wrong with Vietnam.

The gruesome images that were portrayed on TV during that war led to changes in the treatment of the press by the U.S. government.

A new policy was established in the Pentagon. They decided to make the military control the press whenever there is a military operation. They want to control the ebb and flow of all information coming out of the war zone and the results have been gruesome.

This policy of the American government was used successfully when they went into Haiti. The public was not told what was going on.

It was refined in the Iraqi wars. This time they placed journalists right in with the troops. This is very dangerous. The journalists only get to see things from the troop’s perspective. With the troops protecting the journalists the stories are all pro-military.

With the press under control, the stories that came out never revealed what was really going on. Journalists were afraid of getting killed not only by the enemy, but by their allies.

Freedom of the press was curtailed by the military, and these manipulative practices have spread. Now even the police have their own public relations people in order to give a good slant on any story that comes out.

In Canada “Smear campaigns are our speciality” has become an RCMP motto. Integrity and neutrality have been forgotten. The information that is released to the press is prepared by someone in the police department who knows what the public want sto hear. They hide the rest. They justify this by referring constantly to “9/11”: “We are protecting our sources because we are tracking down terrorists,” they say. But the new anti-terrorist legislation leaves the public with no means of protecting itself from the terrorists, mad men and opportunists who have infiltrated the government.

Anti-terrorist legislation is used to justify the incestuous relationship that has developed between the press and military. They work together to hide everything. Honest reporters are finding themselves under constant threat.

Look what happened when the Privacy Commissioner was helping investigate what happened to Tracey Cross of Kanehsatake who became the target of James Gabriel’s illegal undercover investigation by Richard Walsh, a con and a felon. The Privacy Commissioner knows that the press is being kept under control and he felt they should not be used as a vehicle for the government. He felt that people should be able to find out what information is being gathered by the government about them.

Tracey Cross went to the Privacy Commissioner for help because of what they were doing to him. Walsh had used phoney police ID to gather personal information about him at a military base. These were fake police operations, but James Gabriel defended convicted felon Richard Walsh’s identity as an undercover cop from his police force.

Even the military at Petawawa got themselves off the hook over handing files on Tracey Cross over to Walsh because they thought he was a police officer. The Privacy Commissioner, who is there on behalf of the public, is attacked, publicly humiliated and destroyed to show there will be nobody that can stand up to this new wave of government control of information. This puts fear into even the mainstream press who have become afraid of offending the government in power because of what they did to one of their own. It also sent a message of fear throughout society. The Privacy Commissioner was demonized and when it was all over he had to leave. Now nobody will take such a job, unless it is someone who will kowtow totally to the will of the government.

Expensive public relations firms are being used to prevent public accountability and public discussions on all fronts.

In the province of Quebec, as the sovereigntists started to gain momentum, someone with access to the public purse in Ottawa decided this was justification for hiring public relations firms. Instead of promoting public discussion on the nature of Confederation and the legitimate concerns of Quebeckers, the people were subjected to propaganda.

Canada put millions of dollars into advertising firms to put good news in the media about Canada to win the referendum and to diffuse the sovereigntist movement. But once the war was over against the sovereigntists, the firms had organized a public relations propaganda system which they must continue to justify their existence.

In order to keep on living at the high standards they had come to enjoy, they needed new bogeymen: Bikers, the Warrior Society, street gangs, smugglers, Indigenous people and others have been systematically and deliberately demonized. Instead of exploring the possibilities of brotherhood and trying to understand the legitimate concerns of the sovereigntists, they have been treated as pariahs. Divisive stereotypes were accentuated. Good ideas don’t get discussed.

By the same token, Indigenous people are demonized. There is no evidence whatsoever of unusual criminality at Kanehsatake, but this community has been painted as crooks and hoodlums. As a consequence, Canadians are afraid. They don’t study the Haudenosaunee law or culture. Important ideas about local government are not studied or discussed. We are ignored just like the sovereigntists.

Fear Factor 1: Canadians who don’t support “the system” will lose their jobs

Any reporter who investigates too deeply will get fired. How can he or she pay the mortgage and support their family?

Freelance journalists don’t escape. They find their houses ransacked by the police, their research notes tossed into a jumble, and their hard-drives jammed by mysterious virus attacks.

And the cops. What do you think happens to a cop who does not follow orders?

Canadians are vulnerable. They come from a society that values private property more than human relations. That’s why reporters don’t ask the hard questions. That’s why cops follow orders mindlessly. They’re not the only ones.

Under the British system of government that Canada is supposed to be following the courts are supposed to keep government institutions honest. But what happens in reality?

Are Canadian bureaucratic and judicial institutions truly neutral? Of course not.

Kanehsatake is a case in point.

The lawyer for James Gabriel stated that the 24 elderly Kanehsatake citizens charged with rioting on January 12 were ordered to stay off Kanehsatake territory because there was an order that “came from higher up.” What kind of legal argument is that? How can this kind of reasoning be justified in a “free and equal” society?

But just think about it.

Have you ever heard of anything coming out of Canada’s Department of Justice that balanced the interests of the bureaucracy against those of the people?

Of course not. This tax-funded agency acts like a hired gun for whoever happens to hold a government position. And you know what a cesspool of patronage appointments the Canadian government is!

This is how people like Richard Walsh, Communications Strategy, PricewaterhouseCoopers and the illegal paramilitary goon squad that was set loose on Kanehsatake get to dine high on the hog.

This is why there’s no money for health care and education. Your money is being leached away by dangerous parasites.

This is why we can’t get rid of the Indian Act. The Indian Act is illegal. It is ultra vires the British North America Act, 1867, that Canada now calls the Constitution Act, 1982. It was put in place through a violation of international law and the Indigenous nations from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic Ocean have been making this argument for over 100 years. Yet no one has been able to present this argument in a Canadian or international court and it is never mentioned in Canadian law schools. Why is this?

Well, what do you think would happen to all those Indian Act experts if that piece of misbegotten legislation was chucked into the garbage bin where it belongs?

You guessed it. A lot of people would lose their jobs.

The only reason why the Indian Act is still here to annoy us is because incompetent people are afraid of losing their jobs. They’re afraid of losing their excuse for sponging off hijacked tax money and the royalties Canada collects from exploiting Indigenous resources.

Just think about it. Where do Canadian politicians go when they want advice on the Indian Act? They go to the Department of Indian Affairs and the sub-division of the Department of Justice that specializes in “First Nations.”

Would these people have jobs if the illegality of the Indian Act was exposed?

Of course not. They’ve been scamming the Indigenous nations and the Canadian people, and they don’t want you to think about it. All kinds of money can just flow through Indian Affairs because it is just like one big black hole.

You need to think about how you are being scammed as much as we are.

Fear Factor 2: Why do Canadians blame the abuse they suffer on the First Nations?

Fear Factor 1 explains why the media and the people working in police administrative and judicial institutions are so easy to manipulate.

Now we need to consider why the Canadian public lets them get away with this. After all, it’s not just Indigenous resources that are being wasted and stolen. Money earned through the hard work of the Canadian people is being scammed into fraudulent projects as well.

This is where stereotypes come into play.

It’s easy for the media that have been bought off by big business to bamboozle the public. They just have to give the people the stories they have been conditioned to expect.

Psychologists have proven that people only remember information that fits the stereotypes they know. They just don’t seem to absorb unexpected information.

Two main stereotypes are used to oppress Indigenous people. You all know the first. We have been painted as wild uncivilized savages. You think we’re not real “Injuns” unless we’re wearing feathers and giving war whoops. When you come right down to it, you tend to think that impersonators like Grey Owl know more about our culture than we do ourselves.

The other stereotype is not so often recognized. You like to think that Canada is the best country in the world to live in and the Canadian government is there to protect us all with its fundamental benevolence.

The truth is, the Canadian government is not protecting us. It is not protecting you. It is not protecting me. And it does not give a damn about our children, our grandchildren or what the future may hold for the seven generations to come.

Canada’s jurisdiction has been built on a tissue of lies. Europeans did not bring civilization to the Onkwehonwe – the original people of Turtle Island that you call America. They brought disease and social disorder. The holocaust and diseases killed 96 per cent of our population but we survived. The social disorder disrupted our institutions.

Your government used your law to perpetrate a genocide that it refuses to admit. It tried to destroy our culture by tearing children from their parents, by outlawing our languages, our religions, our cultures and our ceremonies. It imposed individualism and greed and taught people not to support each other.

But the original ways of this land have not been forgotten.

The native way is to support each other. That is why when the poor sick beggars came from Europe they were fed and cared for. The beggars were sick with fear because they were abused at home and the abuse continues here.

What do you think will happen when they have run out of Indians to harass and put in jail? They will start picking on you.

But you can change things. You can change things if you start looking behind the stereotypes to see who we really are.

A lot is left out of Canadian history. Canadians don’t know how the Department of Indian Affairs was established. Canadians don’t even know when Canada became a state. Canadians don’t know that the Six Nations applied for membership in the League of Nations or that they met the definition of a state when Canada did not. Hell. Canadians don’t even know who the Six Nations are!

Canadians don’t know that Canada did not have a right to sign a treaty independently until 1923. The Cree out on the prairies could sign treaties but Canada could not. It was the British who were signing those Numbered Treaties for Canada.

Canadians have been brainwashed with ignorance.

The students who come into my class at Concordia University where I teach know absolutely nothing except the media stereotypes.

The media repeats stereotypes because they want to sell newspapers. Their business is not to inform the public. Their business is to support a fantasy. To entertain. To make money. There are people so desperate in the dominant culture they will do anything for money. Instead of reporting the news, the media will look for sensationalism.

How Can You Overcome the Fear Factor?

Well, I say join us. Learn about our history and our philosophy. Learn about what we contributed to modern democracy. Learn about how the Americans got it wrong and why they are falling into despotism. Learn to respect our ancestors and give thanks that they were willing to take care of you.

If you were to learn about our history and our laws you would stop calling us welfare bums and you would stop being afraid of peaceful agricultural communities like Kanehsatake. You would stop the government from spending your money on pepper spray, flack jackets, armaments and PR firms. You would open yourselves up to new possibilities.

You would learn how to respect us and yourselves. You would respect our jurisdictions and you would stop being afraid.

The public had been made to believe where there is smoke there is fire. After all, the government wouldn’t be putting so much police in there if there wasn’t reason to, even though no one’s ever been charged because nothing was happening. When the government puts up $900,000 then there must be a problem and the public believes it.

What if nothing is happening? What would CSIS do? What would the cops and social workers do? They have mortgages to pay and families to support. So fear of Indigenous people pays. It is a big industry.

Today the general population has become anti Indigenous and one time they were benevolent towards us. The public is saying, “They shouldn’t be giving Indigenous people any more money.” Actually the money did not get to us. It was stolen by those who were assigned to protect us. For example, Kanehsatake has been placed under trusteeship. A trust company’s job is to make money for its shareholders, not to make money for the Indigenous people. That means their land can make more money for the shareholders by being sold off to developers. So, of course, the trustees will sell the land off. At the same time the federal government can relinquish their fiduciary responsibility. Without their knowing, Kanehsatake was turned into a municipality. The people had no say in it. It was done behind their back at a very high level in the Canadian government. Jean Chrétien knows more on the ins and outs of Indian affairs because he was one of the longest serving Ministers of Indian Affairs. It is one of the easiest government departments to rob.

Because of this disinformation, people don’t take in valid information or question what they are reading. Anybody who ever took a drive to Kanehsatake can see for themselves that it is a quiet community. The media have made people afraid of Kanehsatake Mohawks and of Indigenous people in general. It is really just another small agricultural town just like any other in the country.

What is the underlying motivation under it all? The Indians are the true owners of the land and resources. The media are playing with the minds of the public who don’t want the Indians to question the ownership of the land they are living on. Canadians have tried to get rid of the Aboriginal title to the land. The way you do it is by justifying the wholesale slaughter of the true owners of the land. Just like Hitler did in Nazi Germany, he programmed society against the Jews so the people eventually thought they deserved to die. That is the real direction of Indian Affairs. Eventually they will justify throwing us all in jail, removing us from our lands and placing us on some island where we will starve to death. Government is preparing society for the elimination of Indigenous people through propaganda so they can say that the land no longer belongs to the Indigenous people because they got rid of the true owners. It’s an old story.

Remember, the more jails you build the more people you will need to put in jail. Studies have shown if a child is put in jail for just one day they are more likely to end up in jail later. In Winnipeg they systematically pick up Indigenous kids and put them in jail over the weekend.

Once they have been put on the record or have a criminal record the police can track them on their computer system. The OPP have cruisers which have a new machine inside. They punch in your licence plate number and out pops on their screen information about you from the time you got your first drivers license to today. The Ministry of Transportation gives all this private information to the police and it is instantly put on the screen. In court they know everything about you. This system is used by the government. Eventually they want your DNA, fingerprints and all information about you so that no matter what you do they will overwhelm you with information about you.

This will make more jobs for police and more jails. Presently, the Ontario Government wants to hand over jails to private American corporations. In order to make money, they have to cut costs. They don’t hire doctors, teachers, guards, social workers, rehabilitation experts, etc. They just warehouse them to make as much money as possible. The government is going through the privatization process of handing people over to private corporations which have one motivation, to make money. This is a way to create cheap labour, or slaves.

Once they have put native people down where they want, do you think they will be satisfied? They wont stop. They will keep right on going until they make others as slaves. Every honest person is a potential victim of this vicious system that is being developed.

Rather than promoting a positive image and showing Indigenous people in a good light these public relations firms, paid by the Department of Indian Affairs, have shown us to be low levels of humanity. Now we can’t get good jobs and responsible positions. We have been so demonized, or painted up as gangsters, thugs, smugglers and deviants that no one in the dominant society will hire us or are afraid to associate with us. “I can’t hire you because your cousin might be a warrior.”

They have made it impossible for the Indigenous people to make a living, forcing us to sell cigarettes. Then they find someone like James Gabriel who says, “I am cleaning house. I am going to shut down all these outlets.” The people won’t be able to get jobs off the Indigenous territory and won’t be able to get a job on the territory either. The money that was supposed to go to keep the infrastructure of the territory going has been diverted to these propaganda organizations. Rather than educating the children they took their money and gave it to a big public relations firm in Montreal and put the community’s affairs into receivership. The high rolling trustees that are controlling Kanehsatake’s affairs are taking their fees right out of the people’s funds. Nothing trickles down to the community. What it has done is make the Indigenous people look worse and worse and worse. We are being cornered. Our money is being depleted and we are being demonized in the press. Instead of these high priced public relations firms promoting Indigenous people they are making it impossible for us to make a living.

The press is so bad. We have to fight back. We need truthful public relations. This is what the government should be doing instead of saying we are all crooks. After they could not demonize the sovereigntists anymore they had to find other targets to justify their big salaries. At least, this is how I see the Liberals have been operating in the province of Quebec.

Canadians have to look at their institutions if they don’t want to become slaves like us. They have to take a stand for integrity in government. They have to questions the carte blanche given to those in government. They must follow the law and proper procedures. Before calling someone a criminal there has to be a procedure and charges laid in a neutral court. They have to stop repeating what everyone says and investigate for themselves and not be bamboozled when someone forms their opinions for them.

You can contact Kahn-Tineta Horn at

Source: TML Daily, June 23, 2004 – No. 107


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Filed under Canada, Indigenous Peoples, Media, Journalism & Disinformation

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