Norman, Okla. — The Native American Journalists Association (NAJA) calls on the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) to investigate incidents of physical contact in an effort to thwart the reporters ability to ask questions and fulfill their professional duties as journalists of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN).
“We’re calling on AFN to investigate this incident and take appropriate action so that reporters can be free to do their job without fear of harassment or violence,” said Francine Compton, Executive Producer at APTN News and NAJA board member.
On Thursday, July 25, at the AFN General Assembly in Fredericton, New Brunswick, policy advisor Dakota Kochie pushed APTN news reporter Amber Bernard during an interview with National Chief Perry Bellegarde.
Earlier in July, Dwayne Bird, director of communications for Peguis First Nation, swatted and then grabbed a microphone out of the hands of APTN producer Beverly Andrews during a scrum, then ordered her to leave because he did not like the question she was asking Chief Glenn Hudson.
APTN’s outgoing Executive Director of News and Current Affairs, Karyn Pugliese, sent a letter to Bellegarde, calling on him to take action and immediately dismiss Kochie, issue a public apology, and ban Bird from future AFN events.
“NAJA supports APTN in their efforts to protect their reporters and employees while reporting on First Nations at the Assembly of First Nations,” said NAJA President Tristan Ahtone. “We believe that AFN should investigate and take appropriate action against anyone who attempts to physically limit journalists from doing their job.”