Disrupting a Canadian Prairie Fantasy and Constructing Racial Otherness: An Analysis of News Media Coverage of Trevis Smith’s Criminal HIV Non-Disclosure Case

  • Colin Hastings York University
  • Eric Mykhalovskiy York University
  • Chris Sanders Lakehead University
  • Laura Bisaillon University of Toronto Scarborough Campus
Keywords: HIV criminalization, media, representation, racialization, stigma


This paper studies how HIV criminalization is portrayed in the mainstream Canadian press by examining news representations of Trevis Smith. Smith’s case is the most reported case of criminal HIV non-disclosure in Canadian history. Our analysis is based on a corpus of 271 articles written about Smith between 2005 and 2012. Our analysis shows that coverage of Smith’s case is distinct from reportage of other criminal HIV non-disclosure cases because he was a well-known Black athlete playing for the Saskatchewan Roughriders at the time of his criminal charge. We argue that news articles represent Smith as a particular kind of threatening racialized “other” through forms of writing that link crime reporting with sports reporting. Our analysis of headlines and quotation patterns emphasizes how news articles construct Smith as a blameworthy outsider and produce Canada as an imagined white settler nation.

Author Biographies

Colin Hastings, York University
Department of Sociology, Ph.D. Candidate
Eric Mykhalovskiy, York University
Department of Sociology, Full Professor
Chris Sanders, Lakehead University
Department of Sociology, Assistant Professor
Laura Bisaillon, University of Toronto Scarborough Campus
Interdisciplinary Centre for Health & Society