Last Thursday, February 17, The Gateway attended the Students’ Union’s “No More Cuts” protest and published a news article that erroneously excluded the comments of Aboriginal Student Council speaker Collette Cullen.
The staff of The Gateway deeply and sincerely apologize for this failure and for any harm caused to Indigenous students. The omission of Indigenous perspectives from our coverage of an issue that so acutely impacts Indigenous students and staff was a failure to meet our responsibilities as journalists and settlers on treaty land. We apologize to Collette Cullen for our erasure of Cullen’s contribution to the protest, and have edited the article to accurately reflect Cullen’s speech.
We owe it to the Indigenous community at the University of Alberta, and the student community more broadly, to undertake a review of our practices to ensure The Gateway can play a positive role in the path of reconciliation. To this end, The Gateway reached out to Aboriginal Student Council on Monday, and we are working together on a resolution. At the end of this letter, we have attached a form for individuals to anonymously leave their perspectives on how The Gateway’s coverage of Indigeneity and Indigenous perspectives, both present and historical, have affected them.
Finally, The Gateway holds an obligation to explain its actions. This explanation does not justify the failure of The Gateway and does not diminish our obligation to meaningfully make changes to prevent the replication of these harms in the future.
The news article covering Thursday’s protest was written immediately after the protest concluded and was split into multiple sections, with two different journalists working on the article. The Gateway staff transcribed Cullen’s speech, but, having not written about Cullen before, reached out to an organizer of the protest for confirmation on how to spell Cullen’s name. The confirmation of spelling was sent promptly to The Gateway, by which time several editors had left our office to attend to other obligations. At this point, a breakdown in communication occurred and no one assumed responsibility for adding Cullen’s speech. The article was then published without including Cullen’s comments.
The omission of the speaker was not intentional, but the omission had the effect of erasing the perspectives and contributions of an Indigenous Two-Spirit person. The Gateway also recognizes that the omission of Indigenous perspectives can happen when unconscious biases and institutional colonialism go unchallenged. Therefore, this issue cannot and should not be dismissed as merely a mistake.
We have an immense responsibility as student journalists on this campus to represent events fairly and accurately. As your campus news organization, particularly as an organization rooted in settler-colonialism, we know it is vital to continue listening and responding to community feedback, and we sincerely appreciate your commitment to holding us accountable.
We understand that, in publishing this article without the inclusion of Cullen’s comments, The Gateway may have eroded your trust. It is up to us to work to regain that trust and change The Gateway for the better.
— The staff of The Gateway