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CBC suspends comments on stories about Indigenous people

'At the end of the day, that violence online is real'

It seems like no matter how many steps forward we take, there’s always going to be something or someone pushing us backwards.

In case you missed this one: CBC shut down comments on stories about Indigenous people earlier this week, stating that over many months “these stories draw a disproportionate number of comments that cross the line and violate our guidelines” on the broadcaster/news outlet’s website.

“Some of the violations are obvious, some not so obvious; some comments are clearly hateful and vitriolic, some are simply ignorant,” wrote Brodie Fenlon, CBC’s acting director of digital news.

Some comments, he added, also appear to be hate disguised as ignorance.

Just having an entire news section on Indigenous issues in Canada was a good move from the CBC. It was progress, proving that these stories need to be told and that there’s clearly an audience for them.

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that we’re, in a way, forced to take a step or two back even within this progress. It means there's more work to do.

The news from the CBC certainly sparked a lot of discussion online, and the broadcaster itself led much of the conversation and debate about pulling the comments.

As It Happens spoke to comedian Ryan McMahon, who has hosted specials for the CBC, about what he’s noticed in the comments section.

“There always seems to be a nagging, almost thunderous voice of racist and hateful comments directed at either myself, or also towards the CBC for hosting what's often called ‘Indian Propaganda’...” he said.

“It's just a violent undertone, if it's not a physically violent undertone, then it's violent language,” he added. “At the end of the day, that violence online is real. Often our youth and our women and our two-spirited community are the ones who face the brunt of this violence.”

The full CBC interview can be found here.

Even satirical/fake news website the Beaverton tackled the topic, with a humorous — and perhaps all too realistic — story on CBC comments moderators.

Hateful comments are disheartening, and we have a long way to go before Canada is a fully welcoming place for all of us, before racism against Indigenous people isn’t a default.

But given some of the responses to the CBC’s move this week — people shouting to the rooftops (if that's a thing that's possible on Twitter or Facebook or reddit) that racism isn't okay — there’s still reason to hope. All of this is just a reminder that our work isn't quite done yet. 

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