Do we want to talk to each other and do we need a code of ethics? These were the big questions asked at a meeting of Quebec’s Aboriginal media in Beaupre City, Quebec at the end of March.

The Quebec Aboriginal Media Seminar, hosted by SOCAM (Société de Communication Atikamekw-Montangnais), had an interesting start as soon as Robert Maltais, from the Quebec Press Council, gave his talk on Ethics. People wondered whether or not the code of ethics used by non-Aboriginals should be taken wholesale or whether we should adopt our own. Would it be different for each Aboriginal Nation?

Maltais, though, told the audience that all reporters have a little bit of the rebel in them and that the freedom of the press has a price and a border. He asked that stories not be done just for the sake of sensationalism and for everyone to assume the responsibility that they are in the readers’ or listeners’ best interests.

Up next was Claude Robillard, from the FPJQ (Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec). Robillard said the most important thing for a journalist was to serve the citizens and have their support in return.

He also remarked that media should support itself as it strengthens freedom of the press.

Robillard talked about Access to Information cases in Quebec. He said it was still difficult and the Quebec government was denounced by the Quebec Press Council. It was found that in 70 per cent of Access to Information cases there was no valid reason not to release the file.

“It’s the culture of government bureaucracy to be secretive,” said Robillard.

Native speakers included Alanis Obomsawin, who said the most important thing is that the story has to come from the people. “Sit down and listen to it before even starting,” she said.

Kenneth Deer, from the Eastern Door, told us that there was need for an independent press in Native communities. “Too much information comes from mainstream media,” he said.

Luke MacLeod, from JBCCS, said that using Native language in broadcasts is a way of ensuring survival and asserting Cree sovereignty for JBCCS. MacLeod felt there was a need for a gathering of Aboriginal media. He also expressed that if a regional organization arose out of this seminar that it should be only for sharing and helping each other. He wouldn’t want an organization that would speak on everyone’s behalf.

In the end, participants agreed upon an ad hoc committee to start developing a code of ethics and a Quebec organization for Aboriginal media.