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Public Communication of Science and Technology


Retweet to Save the Planet
Online Public Engagement Strategies of The Idle No More Movement

Kathy Dobson  

Social media technologies have important implications for the communication strategies of social movements, interest groups and other organizations that rely on public outreach for disseminating messages and goals. This is particularly important for issues concerning climate change and the environment: blogs, website comments, social media interactions, and other platforms offer new ways to engage with the public and shape perceptions of these issues. This completed article explores the role of digital and social media platforms in framing the Idle No More movement, a network of Indigenous communities that has become the largest Indigenous mass protest in Canadian history. Although the movement is committed to asserting Indigenous rights to sovereignty, it is largely rooted in environmental concerns, drawing attention to environmental destruction and the need to fight against climate change. It serves as a call to arms against Bill C-45, which includes changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act, the Fisheries Act and the Environmental Assessment Act. A grassroots movement, this Indigenous-led protest has relied heavily on social media networks to speak out on this bill, leveraging digital and social media to successfully gain national attention, leading to organized rallies across North America. The Idle No More movement is known for their engagement through platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites and more, which has allowed the movement to connect to the public and communicate its activities and goals - often contrasting with negative mainstream news media coverage of their protests. Without the use of these digital and social media platforms, public opinion would be shaped solely by the mainstream news media accounts, and thus these platforms allow for the creation of important counter-narratives. This paper examines the Idle No More movement's use of a variety of platforms, analyzing how they have successfully engaged with the public and communicated their message.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.