A little known literary magazine published by the Writers’ Union of Canada came under fire this week. Its editor, Hal Niedzviecki, called for “more cultural appropriation” and the start of an “appropriation prize”, which sparked outrage. He resigned shortly after.
As shown by the links below, cultural appropriation in art can be a complex issue. The facets around how art, creation, fiction and an author’s life experience from which they build their work interact and are expressed is at the core of this issue.
What’s clear is that Canadians are demanding more support, money and public space for indigenous and racialized authors. Making a mockery out of cultural appropriation by having prominent authors make bids for money contributions for a prize to encourage cultural appropriation denies the real barriers that prevent other voices from being shared and heard. To make such comments without acknowledging that history, colonization, and oppression all play a role in what literature we read today is ignorant and exposes the problems Canadian media still face when representing a diversity of voices.
We have compiled a list of articles that show the depth of this debate, and the harm made by Niedzviecki’s comments last week.