Ian Campeau aka Deejay NDN talks Idle No More racism in the mainstream and social media



Activist, producer and deejay Ian Campeau (Nipissing First Nation) also known as Deejay NDN from A Tribe Called Red returns to Indigenous Waves for a discussion on racism in mainstream and social media, battling twitter trolls and drawing attention to racist and violent messages through social media.


A Tribe Called RedThe Road

Wab Kinew – Our Home and Native Land (Boogey)

M.O. & Geothermal MC – Bearings f. Whitey of Southside Totems

DrezusRed Winter f. Aaron Paquette

Point of Contact – Prayers in a Song

Whitefish Juniors – Intertribal

Originally Aired Monday January 21, 201

Photo Credit: DJ Budda Blaze

10 Responses to “Ian Campeau aka Deejay NDN talks Idle No More racism in the mainstream and social media”
  1. I listened to the entire show you aired on Mon., Jan. 21, 2013. I was very annoyed by the fact that the host (Susan Blight?) said some critics of Chief Spence (who you ALL carelessly label as trolls) have few followers on Twitter. Well, I am a critic of Spence for falsely advertising her hunger strike as a fast unto death and I happen to have fewer than 80 followers, because I am not famous, don’t use tricks to get followers, and wait for followers to follow me. The medicinal tea, lemon water, moose and fish broth, and vitamins that Chief Spence ingested over 44 days were never that harmful to her health, as proven by her very short visit to the hospital over the days 23 to 26 January. She tried to fool the media into exaggerating her precarious state of health, playing her “victim” role to the hilt. Maybe she can get an Academy Award for best Actress!

    If she was serious about her sacred fast, and her supposed reverence for its significance, she would not have abused it as a tool for political advantage and deception. She shamed herself and all that indigenous people stand for, by abusing this sacred fast.

    Please stop labeling any critics who abhor this shameful behaviour by Chief Spence, as trolls. I am not a troll. I am an intelligent, thoughtful, deep-thinking individual who happens to have a very good sense of what is honest and good vs. what is dishonest and crooked. Chief Spence is a self-absorbed, power-hungry individual who happened to go on a fake hunger strike, and thus duped everybody into thinking she was a saint, like Gandhi or Mother Teresa. Well, I have some news for you! Chief Spence is a fraud and a skunk, who deserves no honour and no praise for misusing her position as Chief to threaten a Prime Minister and a Governor General with suicide if they don’t comply with her wishes.

    I am so angry with this whole sordid situation, but instead of spreading hate and vitriol, I have simply used my rights as a citizen of Canada to express my opinion freely via social networks, to lay out the facts and the truth as I see it. All my criticisms were directed at the sham of a hunger strike that was falsely promoted into some sort of Jesus-like sacrifice unto death. It was far from that. In fact, my honest opinion is that Chief Spence knew she had failed as a Chief — failed her own people — and was looking for a sneaky way out of the mess, namely duping an entire nation into thinking she could be a martyr for indigenous people. Never was the Press and the Canadian populace more deceived than this.

    Finally, I listened carefully to what DeeJayNDN had to say and was very impressed with his dedication to helping the cause of indigenous rights. My only concern is that he has a slightly inflated ego if he thinks that labeling all critics of Chief Spence as racist is OK. It is not OK, at least not with me. I had every right to be critical of the methods that Chief Spence employed to pull the wool over the eyes of ignorant Canadians. Let’s hope that this exercise in futility — staging a hunger strike when it was supposed to be a sacred fast — has woken up Canadians to the deviousness of some First Nations Chiefs, and will encourage them to realize that people like Atleo, Coon Come, and other sensible leaders are the ones who will finally be the mediators of solid progress in Indigenous Rights in Canada. The approach that Idle No More has taken thus far is far short of effective in garnering the sympathy of most Canadians, who, like me, think for themselves, do their own research and are skeptical of the mainstream media. Beware of your enemy, for if you continue to take Canadians for granted as ignorant, boorish and racist, your worst enemy is yourselves, since you have lost all credibility for solving the real problems of the 21st Century for indigenous peoples of Canada.

    • As per our previous comment to your response to Deejay NDN, we strongly encourage you to take the time to do some reading on the significance of fasting on tea and fish broth. As well as the possibility that, just because you personally do not recognize a thing to be “right” does not make it not so. There are cultural ceremonial histories, tied to colonial settler histories, that are important to have a full understanding of before judging the methodologies being applied to the Idle No More movement. The key to “intelligent debate” is to understand and recognize the entire picture.

      It should have been specified that the “trolls” mentioned in the show relate specifically to a practice used by corporations, political parties and other groups of opening twitter accounts, facebook accounts and other social media accounts posing as people, and posting with the agenda of the group involved. There has been mainstream media coverage about the current pmo doing this very thing.

    • jevans says:

      I don’t believe Chief Spence referred to her fast as a hunger strike, I believe it was the media.who first used the phrase. I believe Chief Spence was standing up to the Canadian Government in order to draw attention to the Treaties, which are valid forever, and which our Government practically ignores. This should be an issue for all Canadians,

  2. Deejay NDN says:

    I never said all people critical of #idlenomore or Chief Spence are racist. People saying racist stuff, are racists. Be critical, that’s totally fine. Generalizing and stereotyping by race is unacceptable.

  3. finamor says:

    I assumed that when you talked about racism in the media, you were referring to all critics of Chief Spence as well. You did not say explicitly on air that some Chief Spence critics were not racist. Now it is a relief for me to hear you say that I could be critical without racial overtones. I would never use racism as a wedge to drive home any of my objections to #idlenomore nor to its proponents.

    I am open to any and all sincere opinions about how the plight of aboriginals/indigenous peoples could be improved. My main objection to Chief Spence was her conniving manner of presenting herself as a martyr to a cause (including the VERY tacky report that she had signed her Last Testament and Will) — Who does she take us for? Fools? I can’t believe that the Press to a large extent played along with Spence’s gimmicks, a suffering hunger striker professing to be weaker every day, which I did not believe at all, judging from her cheerful disposition in front of the camera.

    If #idlenomore does not engage in intelligent and thoughtful debate about what is really wrong with the current situation in Indigenous Territorial Lands, and how to fix the problems, but instead chooses to use divisive and antagonistic approaches to spread their message, I foresee this entire movement dying out in short order. The patience of all Canadians who matter will run very thin and peter out in no time. OTOH, I have hope that the wiser and more constructive voices among your movement will prevail, and rescue Idle No More from the potential ash heap of history.

    • thank you for your comment. While we appreciate our listener’s feedback, it is important to know that your comment on Chief Spence as conniving and Idle No More as lacking in intelligent “debate” is offensive. Perhaps to help you understand why, you might want to read Leanne Simpson’s article Fish Broth and Fasting, which was then retitled “You think Chief Spence is on a liquid diet? I think you’re ignorant” when the Huffington post published it. You might also want to listen to yesterday’s podcast with Leanne Simpson to hear more about the naming of that article in particular. The article will (hopefully) shed some light for you as to the significance of fish broth and tea, and fasting, and the ceremony that is involved.

      As far as intelligent and thoughtful “debate”, it would seem that you are missing the point of the movement. There are teach ins, gatherings, dancing, singing, people are creating art, writing articles, none of which are divisive, all of which are intelligent, thoughtful and inclusive. The politics are complicated, and are being discussed internally, and to some degree in social media and through some of the writing that people are doing, from many of our community members and leaders. Perhaps there are some things that you do not understand about the cultural approaches and practices, and that does not mean those approaches are lacking intelligence, what it points to is the poor job Canada has done of educating its citizens about Indigenous Nations, as well as colonial history.

  4. In the previous comment, I should have specified that “finamor” is my nickname when signed into WordPress. I am actually “Stephan Krueger”, just so you know. We are one and the same person. 🙂

  5. susanblight says:

    Hi Stephan,

    Just to clarify my statement in regards to the numbers of followers on twitter: I was referring to certain accounts that are dedicated (meaning, every tweet that is posted) to stating racist and stereotypical statements about First Nations’ peoples. These accounts don’t have a name associated with the account or any information linking them to an actual person and often the account is started very recently. These same accounts often only have 1-10 followers for the reason that it is a troll account. Perhaps, I should have clarified further that statement but I certainly don’t remember saying that all critics of Chief Theresa Spence are trolls.

    You are entitled to your opinion, as every individual is, but one must stand behind their words and it is a fact that there are certain twitter accounts where this is not the case.

  6. Thanks for that very informative and interesting interview with Ian Campeau about the deplorable racist responses to #idlenomore. I really want to hear more from the diverse voices who are coming together with #idlenomore. It would be great to hear more interviews with grassroots activists and other cultural figures (like Wab Kinew and Drezus) but perhaps in a shorter format, or with brief excerpts that would be easier to share.

    How about putting up some short soundbites on the webpage with a share button for FB and Twitter, etc.? Also links to some of the awesome cultural outpourings available on different media platforms (art, prose, poetry, music, performance etc.).

    On a separate issue, I would like to pick up Stephan Krueger’s point. I acknowledge what you say about Chief Spence and the cultural significance of fish broth but would respectfully point out that this does not have as devastating an effect on the human physiology as the fast unto death, the self-destructive but peaceful protest used so effectively by historical figures like Gandhi in India and Bobby Sands in Northern Ireland. I think this dissonance is the reason that Chief Spence’s protest echoed falsely among Canadians (and others) who suspected that the term ‘hunger’ strike’ was being used inappropriately and suspected that it might just be an attempt by professional spin doctors to detract attention from embarrassing reports pointing to financial malpractice and/or corruption. Should Chief Spence be treated as a saintly figure beyond reproach? Surely any political figure who aspires to leadership should be open to challenge. WIthout being racist or hateful is it not appropriate to call to account someone who profits from political office?

    Further, my understanding is that there are many Canadians of all nations who feel uneasy when any of the chiefs piggy-back onto #idlenomore, which its founders intended to be a grassroots movement of awakening (very successfully, as it turns out).

    My final point is this: aren’t we all indigenous peoples with the right to roam this Earth and settle where we may. Should respect for our ancestral nations, or their historical grievances, be a barrier to peaceful co-existence? Surely the appeal of #idlenomore is that it invites all those who make their home in Canada to join in the conversation as to how we shape our common future? As Tanya Kappo describes it: “a beautiful awakening to protect the land in a peaceful way”.

    • Thank you for your comments. We appreciate feedback from our listeners. We will take your suggestions into consideration.

      Regarding your comments on Chief Spence, it is important to remember that when attempting to understand culture, ceremonies and protocols that are different from your own, the lens through which you are looking needs some adjusting. Cognitive dissonance makes this process very difficult work, however it is necessary in order to understand the world beyond personal experience, which is always biased. It takes time to decolonize perspectives, especially for the majority who’s educational curriculum has very minimally included Indigenous knowledge, history, society and culture.

      Many Canadians are struggling to understand this fast. There is a lot of talk of trickery and deceit. However, Theresa Spence did not hide that she was drinking tea and fish broth. She did not lie. She presented those as facts every time she was interviewed during her fast, because to her and to the rest of the Indigenous communities, these are acceptable methodologies to be used during the ceremonial fast that she did. Leanne Simpson speaks to this in her article, Fish Broth & Fasting. Unfortunately, Canadians want these things translated into language, methodologies and protocols that they understand, and struggle to accept the validity of something that is not immediately connecting to their own worldview.

      I don’t believe that “respect for ancestral nations” is a barrier to peaceful co-existence. Historical grievances unfortunately continue to the present, so in fact are current grievances. There is a long and violent colonial history that informs present policies, which is why these issues need to be addressed. Canadians are a part of that history and a part of this present. The fact that Indigenous people have opened Idle No More to everyone who wishes to participate in Round Dances, Teach Ins and other Idle No More events speaks to the peaceful nature of the movement, and highlighting the need for that respect is not a barrier, but shows a willingness to meet half way. Perhaps it is possible that those who are struggling with these issues need to do some more work to get to that half way point as well.

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