It’s difficult to write an editorial that breaks a long-running guideline we have at the Nation. We do not target people but rather the issue, position or other components of a news story. We feel that the substance of a story and how it affects our readers is more important than who it may be about.
In this case, I must realize that this is not always possible. While criticism of Nation articles is to be expected – and we’ve had our share – we stand behind everything we publish. When we do make a mistake we own up to it. Our journalists write the stories to the best of their ability after getting as much information as is possible. Their integrity is not at question. It’s a part of their job description.
Thus, when they face unfounded attacks, we must respond as an entity with loyalty to our employees. To do otherwise would go against all we valued when we started the Nation. Attached to that is a way to respond to what they have written. Almost every letter to the editor is printed. The Editorial Board makes the final decision on letters. While angry rants are discouraged, an opinion concerning any story (including criticism of the writer or the Nation) is usually printed. We allow letter writers equal space. If a story was 650 words long, they can write up to 650 words in their response.
It’s easy to be bitter or angry. It’s harder to overcome it and see what is front of you. And to Pakesso Mukash, one of our harshest and most persistent critics in series of posts on his Facebook page, I will say that I am sorry. I am sorry I didn’t do a story on the evil of Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come. I am sorry I couldn’t buy into that type of hatred.
I know your anger. But your father taught me many things. As a leader, Matthew chose the path of consensus. He looked to bring us all together in agreement, something that is very difficult to achieve. In the past, during the Great Whale battle, I sometimes teamed up with your dad. I learnt to respect the man I had met and that respect grew and continues to this day. Your dad was an important and needed person in those times. I also was on the frontlines of that struggle, but in the end it never mattered who did what but that the Cree, as a Nation and as a People, had the project shelved! The battle was bigger than any one of us and we all knew it.
If history is being changed you know the Nation is there to share and illuminate new information. Our feature by Iggy La Rusic last year on who did what during the early 1970s battle to defend our lands against Hydro-Québec, a battle that ultimately led to the signing of the JBNQA, is a prime example.
But when Great Whale rolled around, Matthew Coon Come was Grand Chief, the spokesperson for the Cree of Eeyou Istchee. This does not negate your dad’s contributions to the fight. But there was not, as you have alleged, any “fact-fail” in our coverage of this key period in our history. For instance, we have never seen, as you have written, Grand Chief Coon Come take credit for the idea or design of the Odeyak canoe. Nor was the “surprising” revelation of Coon Come’s association with Labrador Iron Mines any real surprise. The Nation already published that information long ago.
I don’t want to belabour the point, but limited viewpoints restrict opportunities for constructive debate. Anytime you wish to discuss the facts of a story or the integrity of any person writing for the Nation feel free to contact me or write a letter to the Editorial Board of the Nation.