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 BC Hydro outage is affecting nearly 4000 customers in Kitimat. The cause of the outage is under investigation. (Screenshot/BC Hydro Outage Map)
Cable fault responsible for Kitimat power outage, BC Hydro says

At its peak, the BC Hydro power outage affected near 4,000 customers

Graph showing the 2020 passenger totals at the Northwest Regional Airport in Terrace. (Submitted/Northwest Regional Airport)
New year brings an end to a turbulent 2020 at Northwest Regional Airport

Passenger totals half of what they were in 2019

Wireless voice and data services are out for those on Telus as of Thursday (Jan. 14) afternoon across Western Canada, Telus Support said in a recent Tweet. (Black Press file photo)
UPDATE: Telus services restored across Western Canada

Telus said they are monitoring the situation to ensure connections remain stable

The leisure pool at the Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre will be open Thursday and closed Friday for maintenance, the DoK said in an updated Facebook post Thursday (Jan. 14). (Kitimat Leisure Services photo)
UPDATE: Leisure pool at Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre open Thursday, closed Friday

The leisure pool will be closed Friday (Jan. 15) for maintenance due to a mechanical issue

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Most Read