Indigenous news site overwhelmed by interest in moderate livelihood fishery
'It's really satisfying for me,' Maureen Googoo says of her website traffic
An independent Indigenous news site has been flooded by readers looking for information on the Sipekne'katik moderate livelihood fishery.
People from across the country have been watching southwest Nova Scotia in recent weeks, as conflict and uncertainty around the fishery have escalated since it was launched in September by the Sipekne'katik First Nation.
Maureen Googoo is an award-winning journalist and the founder of Ku'ku'kwes News, an Indigenous news site that covers Atlantic Canada. The website has had so many views from across the country that it has repeatedly crashed — and Googoo said she has now almost met her monthly crowdfunding goal of $4,000 US.
Googoo spoke to CBC Information Morning host Portia Clark on Monday. Here is part of their conversation. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
You were just down in Digby as part of your coverage there. What did you see in southwestern Nova Scotia this weekend?
On Friday night, there was the fire in West Pubnico that levelled a lobster pound there, so that happened. But for the most part, when I was speaking with people throughout the weekend, it seemed to be things have calmed down a bit, but people are still feeling on edge.
They're still feeling like last week was a really turbulent week and a lot of them feel really weighed down by what's been going on.
Hi all. It seems my website is crashing due to so many hits. I am working on a solution to this. In the meantime, I suggest refreshing your page a couple of times. The story should come up that way. Sorry about this. 😕—@Kukukwes
Why do you think those stories from your Ku'ku'kwes News site have been getting so much attention?
I can only compare it to when I was covering the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings when they were being held in Halifax nine years ago. I had heard the stories about residential school survivors and what they suffered.
But what I noticed was the non-Indigenous people there, it was the first time they actually heard about the abuse and about the overt racism that they suffered. And a lot of them were really affected by it. But they were also angry and expressing that they weren't told this history of Canada and wanted to know more.
I think what's going on with my website is kind of a similar thing. Not many people in Canada know about the Peace and Friendship Treaties out here on the East Coast. Those are pre-confederation treaties.
I went through the Nova Scotia school system and I wasn't taught my own history. So I can only imagine what non-Indigenous people who are seeking this information are going through, and I think that's what is gravitating them to my website.
WATCH | Fire destroys lobster facility in southwest Nova Scotia:
Your stories on Ku'ku'kwes don't include many of the voices of commercial fishermen that the mainstream media uses. Why do you choose not to feature them prominently in your stories?
When I look at my stories, it's from an Indigenous perspective. I'm a Mi'kmaw person. I'm writing about legal issues here and I'm primarily writing for an Indigenous audience.
When I think about what's been going on down there, a lot of it is very overt racism. If I go down there and I talk to them, I'm going to have to write about that racism and put it on my website. For me, being an Indigenous person, racism is really personal for me. It's really hurtful. And I feel like I'm traumatized when I'm exposed to it.
I can only imagine what an Indigenous reader would go through if they have to read that in my story.
So what I've been doing is I've been mostly focusing on the issue of the Mi'kmaw fishers asserting their treaty right, and the player that actually can do something about it, which is the federal government. And I think that's where the focus of my story should be.
WATCH | Federal fisheries minister responds to lobster facility raids:
On the weekend, someone tweeted to The Hulk actor Mark Ruffalo asking him to endorse the site. He responded. Was that welcome, given that your site has been overwhelmed and crashing?
It is overwhelming and it's really satisfying for me that this is happening. Having my website crash is a good thing. It means more people are coming to the website.
But also meant I had to spend two days on technical issues, upgrading my web hosting package to accommodate the extra traffic.
I've been running Ku'ku'kwes News for the past five years. I had this in mind when I launched it and it took a little bit longer than I expected for it to catch on.
But I'm not going to complain now. I'm really appreciating that people are coming to the site, getting something out of it and wanting to share it with other people.
With files from CBC's Information Morning.