Redd Alert! (De)Coding the Media's Production of Aboriginal Gang Violence on a Western Canadian First Nation


  • Jordan Koch University of Alberta
  • Jay Scherer University of Alberta



Media, Aboriginal Gangs, Interviews


This article examines the articulation of a racialized moral panic surrounding Aboriginal gang violence and the community of Maskwacis, a collection of four First Nations in central Alberta, Canada formerly known as Hobbema. Our analysis is situated within the distinctive settler-colonial context through which Aboriginal gangs were mediated (Ginsburg 1991) by the mainstream commercial media as an issue of public concern in this particular Cree community and, indeed, throughout Western Canada. Drawing upon interviews with journalists, First Nation residents, and other community members in the region, our analysis focuses on two interrelated issues: 1) the “behind-the-scenes” production processes through which non-Aboriginal journalists condensed themes of race, crime, and youth to reproduce and amplify a powerful and punitive discourse that articulated Aboriginal gang violence with the broader community itself; and 2) the ways in which First Nations residents and community members—themselves the subjects of the media gaze—interpreted, internalized, and, at times actively manipulated this racialized discourse of crisis.