Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Media, public likely will hit snooze button on an alarming wake-up call
I’m not sure which is the bigger tragedy.The fact police say a six-year-old Manitoba boy was stripped naked, shoved into a lake and drowned by three bullies aged seven, eight and nine. (Read story HERE
)Or the collective shrug of the shoulders this horrific story is likely going to get from the vast majority of the country.Am I being too harsh?I only wish. But I fear this case - and the social ills which surely contribute to such a shocking attack - likely won’t even attract a blip on the national radar.If this happened in a major centre - especially an eastern-based city - it would be all over the news.But it didn’t happen in Toronto, or even Timmins. It happened in Pauingassi, a place few Canadians probably even know exists and even less could actually point out on a map.I’ve been to the remote reserve, and it wasn’t a pretty sight. The place is filled with poverty, abuse, neglect, and a sense of hopelessness.And, obviously, a lack of respect for human life, even at the seemingly tender age of a young child.The facts surrounding Adam Keeper’s death are appalling. And they should serve as a wake-up call to all Canadians about the disturbing conditions on so many remote native reserves.Yet I suspect most people will simply hit the snooze button.I brought this issue up during my “Crime and Punishment” radio show Sunday evening, and many callers agreed with my suggestion that the story will likely be downplayed in a major way.It already has been, with nary a trace of it to be found on several national news websites.I wondered aloud if it’s because both the victim and his attackers are native and the incident happened in some faraway reserve.Out of sight, out of mind.Several agreed race and location are likely factors.One caller suggested it isn’t the fact the victim was native, but that the attackers were. He suggested the story would be a “big deal” if it was white kids killing a native boy.Many questioned the role of the parents, as so often happens in cases where kids run wild.And, to my surprise, quite a few people felt the killer kids should face criminal charges - despite the fact the oldest boy is still three years shy of being eligible for legal consequences. (Click HERE
to vote and view my latest Jury Poll on the issue)Me? I was just glad people were talking about the case. And I truly hope that continues.We all have a role to play.As a member of the media, it’s important I don’t gloss over something so serious in favour of the latest Paris, Britney or Lindsay update and do what I can to push for answers and keep the story alive.As a member of the public, I think you owe it to yourself to care deeply about something so tragic. We all live in one world, and stories like this remind us there is much work to be done.Let’s keep the discussion going by posting your thoughts below. A lot of people involved in all aspects of the justice system read this blog so your voice is being heard, loud and clear.Do you agree stories like this don’t get the attention they deserve? Is race a factor? What should be done with these kids? Do they have any kind of future? And what about the parents?