La Presse publishing photos of deceased Indigenous youth was exploitative, says Nunavik organization

The database has been taken down, but ‘the damage has already been done,’ says Makivik Corp.

Makivik Corp. says it will file complaints to La Presse and is considering legal action for the publication of a database detailing the deaths of Indigenous youth in Quebec, which included photos. (File photo by Sarah Rogers)

By Mélanie Ritchot

A database that was part of a 2015 series by La Presse, which detailed the deaths of Indigenous youth in Quebec, drew criticism when it resurfaced online last week.

It included portraits of some of the deceased youth, 144 of whom are Inuit.

Makivik Corp., the land claims organization for Inuit in Nunavik, called the publication of the information “senseless,” and said even though the database has been removed, “the damage has already been done,” in a news release.

“Makivik leadership find this kind of exploitation shocking and concerning.”

Pita Aatami, the president of Makivik, said “you would be hard-pressed to find a list like this that gives details surrounding the deaths of non-Indigenous youth.”

He said this highlights the discriminatory lens southern media have when viewing and covering Nunavik and other Indigenous communities.

It also raises privacy and consent issues, he said, adding that families are being forced to relive past traumas with this information being published without their prior knowledge.

“Further actions need to be taken to ensure this type of reporting doesn’t continue as it does nothing more than bring pain to the families.”

In the coming days, Makivik said it will file complaints to La Presse, Quebec’s press council and the coroner in chief. It will also look at the possibility of filing a class-action lawsuit for the parents, according to the release.

La Presse has since removed the database from the website and replaced it with the original series of articles, which looked into the deaths of 259 Indigenous children about six years ago.

“[The database’s] circulation on social networks has been painful for many families,” François Cardinal, the deputy publisher of La Presse, stated on the page where the database was originally posted. “We sincerely apologize to them for rekindling their grief.”

“Our intention was rather to expose the circumstances surrounding these tragedies to prevent them from happening again.”

While reporting, La Presse met with grieving families in Nunavik communities. “Our goal was to put faces to an otherwise silent tragedy,” Cardinal said in his statement.

He said publishing the database without the articles to give the proper context was “unfortunate,” which is why they have republished the entire investigation.

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(2) Comments:

  1. Posted by Peter on

    Unethical, immoral, unprofessional, have they not a shred of empathy or compassion for the families of the deceased, enough said.

  2. Posted by Manon G on

    Absolutely disgusting from La Presse to do such a detailed report. No respect at all for those families. Those communities. And what was the purpose of this? Really.

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