APTN granted intervener status in Justine Brake case
The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) will be allowed to participate in a court case involving journalist Justin Brake, who is facing criminal charges related to his coverage of Muskrat Falls protests.
In a decision issued Monday, the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal said APTN can act as an intervener in the case, within some limitations.
Brake was covering protests at the Muskrat Falls site in Labrador when self-described Labrador land protectors entered the site and occupied one of the accommodations buildings — effectively shutting down work briefly.
Brake followed the land protectors to cover the situation, and when Nalcor Energy went to court to get an injunction removing the protesters, Brake was named in the court order.
Brake is arguing in court that the court should have considered the fact that he was a working journalist for the Independent online news outlet.
Karyn Pugliese said the APTN was given a special mandate by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission when it comes to Indigenous issues, and participating in this court case is part of this.
“This case will determine how conflicts between Aboriginal peoples and the state are covered by journalists in the future,” she said. “We already see that historically Aboriginal peoples have been ignored or misrepresented in media. Any decision that prevents journalists from embedding with our people during conflicts could make matters worse by creating a chilling effect on the coverage of issues impacting our people and all Canadians.”
In the decision granting intervener status, Chief Justice Derek Green wrote that APTN is invited to make arguments about the special significance of journalism as it relates to Indigenous issues, and how constitutional protections for Indigenous people might apply to this case.