Denial of access

Sitansisk First Nation security interferes with Radio-Canada interview

A Sitansisk First Nation security officer and an unidentified man interrupted a Radio-Canada interview, asking the journalist to leave and telling the interviewee to stop speaking to the journalist. 

Radio-Canada journalist Alix Villeneuve was in Sitansisk First Nation (also known as St. Mary’s First Nation), near Fredericton, N.B., to report on a state of emergency in the community, which was declared in response to what the local government described as “escalating risks due to illegal drug activity.” 

Community member Albany Paul approached Villeneuve on the street and said that she wanted to talk about the state of emergency. As she and the journalist were speaking, a uniformed Sitansisk First Nation security officer approached, interrupted the Radio-Canada team and told Paul to stop speaking to the media, reported Radio-Canada

The security officer asked Villeneuve to leave and told him to talk to Sitansisk First Nation Chief Allan Polchies Jr, reported CBC. 

A second man, who CBC reported was not wearing a uniform, then approached and told the journalist that Paul would “spin it in the wrong direction.” 

In an interview with CBC the following day, Paul criticized the local government’s response to drug use in the community. 

When journalists asked Polchies about the incident at a press conference, he denied that his government had directed security officers to block journalists from interviewing residents, but said that he was concerned about “fake news.” 

“We want to ensure that the messages from the media, because of course as we all know there could be fake news, and because people have their own sort of version of what happened,” he said at the press conference, according to CBC. “As a leader I need to ensure that the messaging is getting out there, the right messaging,” he added.