This image released by ABC shows Ryan Phillippe in a scene from “Big Sky.” premiering on Tuesday. Several Indigenous groups are lambasting ABC’s “Big Sky” for a storyline about murdered women in Montana that fails to mention the crisis disproportionately involves Indigenous victims. (Sergei Bachlakov, ABC)

This image released by ABC shows Ryan Phillippe in a scene from “Big Sky.” premiering on Tuesday. Several Indigenous groups are lambasting ABC’s “Big Sky” for a storyline about murdered women in Montana that fails to mention the crisis disproportionately involves Indigenous victims. (Sergei Bachlakov, ABC)

Indigenous groups criticize ABC series ‘Big Sky’ for insensitivity to MMIWG

UBCIC is among several Indigenous groups lambasting the Vancouver-shot series

Indigenous critics of ABC’s kidnapping drama “Big Sky” say it fails to acknowledge real-life missing and murdered Indigenous women and are extending their grievance to CTV for airing the series in Canada without added context.

The Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs is among several Indigenous groups lambasting the Vancouver-shot series for a storyline about kidnapped women in Montana that skirts a real-life epidemic in that state, as well as B.C.

The B.C. group’s secretary-treasurer Kukpi7 (pronounced COOK’pee) Judy Wilson called it “imperative” that “ABC demonstrate some awareness and cultural competency” regarding systemic violence against Indigenous women and girls.

But she took issue Thursday with CTV, too, saying “they are equally responsible” for airing a series that appears to discount a painful reality that extends to Canada.

Her union has joined several other Indigenous groups in asking ABC to append an information card to the end of future episodes that explains the MMIWG crisis.

If ABC won’t do it, Wilson said she’d like to see CTV do it themselves.

“Anyone in the film industry and in the broadcast industry in Canada — especially with the National Inquiry (into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls) — should have a social conscious if not a moral conscious and obligation to include this kind of information in their productions or at least an info card at the (end),” Wilson said when reached by phone near Vernon, B.C.

“By omitting it and by not including any references … they’re adding to the issue of the genocide against Indigenous women and girls.”

CTV did not provide comment by mid-afternoon Thursday.

Similar complaints against ABC have been raised by the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association representing members of tribes in North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska; and the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council, which represents Montana’s eight federally recognized tribes; and the international Global Indigenous Council, which said it’s not asking the network to pull or reshoot the series, but to insert an information card.

“Big Sky” premiered Nov. 17 on ABC and CTV with Canadian stars Katheryn Winnick and Kylie Bunbury alongside Ryan Phillippe as detectives on the hunt for two sisters kidnapped on a remote Montana highway.

It’s based on C.J. Box’s novel “The Highway,” which the critics say also failed to address the disproportionate number of Indigenous missing and murdered women in Montana.

While much MMIWG advocacy has been directed towards politicians and the justice system, Wilson said the entertainment industry must also address the way it portrays Indigenous issues. She said there are many Indigenous organizations willing to help film and television productions tackle these concerns responsibly.

“A lot of it is social media or the messages that go to a lot of people on how we treat Indigenous women and girls, and social media can be a change-agent in what’s happening out there,” said Wilson.

“We need to stand in the truth and we need to talk the truth and we need to experience it so we can move forward and find solutions that are truth-based.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Indigenous

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second-floor balcony continues to smoulder after a fire extinguisher was used to get a small balcony fire under control at the Washington Inn Apartments. Brian Hayward, who lives on the third floor, was alerted to the fire by the smell of smoke wafting into his apartment. Photo by Brian Hayward.
Courtenay firefighters respond to balcony fire at Washington Inn Apartments

Firefighters were called out to the Washington Inn Apartments Sunday, April 17,… Continue reading

RCMP forensics investigators scour the site north of Highland School in Comox, where multiple people were stabbed during a party Saturday night, April 16. Photo by Terry Farrell
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Comox bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault near Highland Secondary

Cumberland is surrounded by trees — and logging. Its council is supporting a call to stop old-growth logging in vulnerable areas of the province such as Fairy Creek. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland backs request to save B.C.’s old-growth forests

The Comox Youth Climate Council is asking local governments to take stand

Danita Bilozaze and her daughter Dani in Comox. Photo by Karen McKinnon
Valley woman makes historic name change for truth and reconciliation

First in Canada to be issued new passport under the TRC Calls to Action

For Leela Harrop, the recent death of her brother Raju Tiwari pushed her to sign up for the vaccine. Photo supplied
Comox woman on fence books vaccine due to brother’s death

Leela Harrop says she did have issues with signing up online this past week

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Rules against RV living hard on Island residents caught in housing crunch

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Most Read