Views / Opinion

Using comedy as opportunity for reconciliation is admirable: Kabatay

Walking Eagle News takes a page from The Beaverton's joke book to cover Indigenous issues in a satirical light.

Tim Fontaine's, a satirical online site, proves laughter is the best medicine, writes Jasmine Kabatay.

JOHN WOODS / The Canadian Press

Tim Fontaine's, a satirical online site, proves laughter is the best medicine, writes Jasmine Kabatay.

“Laughter is the best medicine” was something I had always heard. Just another cheesy quote.

But it recently took on a whole new meaning for me with the launch of the website Walking Eagle News.

It mocks news stories with a humour very much like The Onion and The Beaverton — satirical, deadpan, and absolutely hilarious.

Headlines such as “First Nations man wakes up white after Indian Status card expires” or “Trudeau speech consists almost entirely of word ‘reconciliation’” may hit a little too close to home, but it still makes me laugh.

Indigenous journalist Tim Fontaine, whose career of reporting spans years, many with the CBC and now APTN, told The Canadian Press he created Walking Eagle to break away from the heavy news and “have some fun.”

And it took off. Posts from the website have been shared and retweeted thousands of times, and a publisher is floating the idea of a book, Fontaine told CP.

When I first heard about Walking Eagle News, I was upset. Why didn’t I think of it?

Fontaine’s website and its popularity shows me just exactly how needed it was as a place to escape the real news.

Though coverage of Indigenous issues seems to be on the rise, something I hadn’t seen too much of growing up, the news is almost entirely negative.

While it’s great that these stories get coverage, at the same time the sadness can be overwhelming.

As an Indigenous journalist that covers some of these heavy issues, I agree with Fontaine that the subject matter can weigh you down.

The website he created is a sigh of relief for me. It’s funny, relatable, and really just the pissed off truth.

What I truly admire is Fontaine’s use of humour on stories that could be seen as unfunny or too serious, and his goal of using comedy as an opportunity for reconciliation.

“I'm sure there is a role for humour in reconciliation. I don't know what it is yet — I just want to make sure our people aren't the punchline," Fontaine told The Canadian Press.

Fontaine is in charge. He is showing that the news and lives of Indigenous Peoples have many layers — not just the stereotypical strong, serious Indigenous person. We are able to laugh (or laugh AND cry) at the ridiculousness of how Indigenous Peoples can be treated by the general public and the government.

Some people may feel awkward or take it seriously because of the content, but it’s there to make people laugh. To make people see the humour of things in an Indigenous light.

You can’t put up with everything we go through and not laugh at some point. Walking Eagle just makes it easier.

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