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Back to the theme of fun, I love Al Jazeera.  There coverage of the Arab uprising has been amazing! I could (and do) spend a lot of time watching and reading news commentary. It often raises comments and questions about politics and current events that more western centric media fails to examine. For example, here’s an intriguing article examining Israel’s right to shoot border protesters. Then, to South America, here’s an article about a new, more addictive, form of cocaine that is growing in popularity.

I adore the People and Power programme, which delves into the complex and fascinating relationships between people and structures of power. Every 20 min episode is different and interesting. This is procrastination at its finest!

At home, Al Jazeera also helps present a different side of Canada, forcing us to see how we may be viewed on the other side of the world. It isn’t very pretty. Before the infamous G-20 in Toronto last year, Al Jazeera published a revealing story about the plight of Canada’s Aboriginal communities and the supposed risk of an insurgency from a lack of governmental response. Read this quote:

“Bland argues that the situation within First Nations in Canada has all the attributes of an insurgency.’These root causes, these abysmal conditions for some of the aboriginal people are serious.’There are more than 800 outstanding native land claims held against the Canadian government. And in many First Nations communities there is deep crisis, with poverty, unemployment and overcrowding the norm.According to figures from the Assembly of First Nations, more than 118 First Nations lack safe drinking water and some 5,500 houses do not have sewage systems.Almost one half of homes on native reserves are in need of “major repairs”, compared with 7 per cent of non-native homes.Natives suffer a violent crime rate that is more than 300 times higher than Canada’s non-native population, while natives represent 18.5 per cent of the male prison population and one-quarter of the female population, although natives only constitute 4 per cent of the total population.In some provinces, the incarceration rates are starker.In Manitoba, 71 per cent of prisoners are native, although natives represent only 15 per cent of the province’s population; in Saskatchewan, the number is even higher, with natives accounting for 80 per cent of prisoners but only 11 per cent of the population.”

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything similar published on a Canadian site. And while I don’t think that Canada has an internal security issue to the extent that is described, especially where gangs are mentioned, the article manages to highlight that these are serious grievances and merit a serious response. What in Canada we often dismiss as an “Aboriginal issue” may in fact be a “Canadian issue,” a serious human rights crisis that we must address. Al Jazeera has also provided coverage of Canada’s own disappeared, missing and murdered Aboriginal women from across the country. This is again a story that we seldom see in our mainstream news, yet dealing with this reality is vital for the integrity of us all.

(speaking of Sisters in Spirit, send a message of support for the vital work the Native Women’s Association is doing to document and work to stop these crimes from taking place)

Of course, this doesn’t mean that Al Jazeera is perfect and un-biased. They have a particular slant, just like every news source. However, no matter if I disagree or agree with their perspectives, I continue to find that gaining a different perspective is always a good idea!

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