1:3 Significant “Ceremonies”


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6.Write a summary of three significant points that you find most interesting in the final chapter of If This is Your Land, Where are Your Stories?

Reading If this is Your Land, Where are your Stories is a discomforting experience at first.  It commences with admiration of the stories being told, and then a moment of “What is the author trying to say”?  As the experience progresses, the reader is treated with J. Edward Chamberlin’s story of histories, duality, and parallels.  The stories that confront us with injustice in history (to say “the guests have not been very nice to the hosts” would be a gross understatement) and challenge theories people educated in the western tradition accept at face value.  The final chapter, “Ceremonies” in some sense eliminates that duality and equalizes the parallels.  It makes three significant points.

To begin, First Nation stories are not to be discounted due to their orality.  A story of a grizzly bear rolling down the mountain is not a romantic tale recounted around the fire, but rather it is history and evidence of a people’s relationship to their land.  The bear story belongs to the Gitksan people of northwestern B.C., and has been confirmed by geologists as the story of a major earthquake seven thousand years ago (Chamberlin 219-21).  The underlying theme is not who is right or wrong – it is the importance of understanding and respecting stories from all.  Orality is not “backwards”; it is the way most of us on this earth communicate (MacNeil).  What does a narrative of buffaloes, sunflowers, and blackbirds reveal about a people’s tie to a peculiar slice of land (Chamberlin 216)?

Secondly, western stories are not superior due to their written nature.  They are products of our imagination just the same.  There are two intriguing examples in “Ceremonies”: borders and title to land (Chamberlin 222-3, 229-30).  We may share the experience of being nervous when going through a border checkpoint even without any wrongdoing; perhaps because we appreciate the seriousness of national borders.  The concept, if we strip it bare is a product of collective imagination being recorded on pieces of papers such as treaties and legislation.  Borders are created and subject to change – the written form does not guarantee permanence.  In B.C. an entity’s entitlement to be on a piece of land is expressed on pieces of paper – the land title.  The systems is called “indefeasible”; in the legal sense it means protecting an innocent buyer against fraud, and in another way it is the fortification of imagined ownership by writing a lot of things down on paper (Land Title Act).  Again, this is not about who is right or who is wrong.

Finally, what are ceremonies about then?  One way to look at it is we all have to make sense of the world and life.  Certain ceremonies do that for things over which we exert no control: if an earthquake happens, if someone dies, if fish show up in the river.  A ceremony of words also tries to make sense: telling stories and understanding those of others.  Hopefully that ceremony will demonstrate the duality of them against us, or true or false is a “delusion” (Chamberlin 239-40).  Words, songs, and ceremonies will hopefully take us to more common ground.

There is a piece out today about how Aboriginal firefighters are very competent at what they do in Fort McMurrary because of their traditional ties to the land.  I am genuinely curious about their stories.

Works Cited

Chamberlin, J. Edward.  If This Is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories?:       Finding Common Ground.  Toronto: A.A. Knopf Canada, 2003.  Print.

Land Title Act.  Queen’s Printer, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, 27 Apr. 2016.  Web.  19 May 2016.

MacNeil, Courtney.  “Orality.”  The Chicago School of Media Theory, Winter 2007. Web.  19 May 2016.

Pruden, Jana G.  “Indigenous firefighters battling Fort McMurray blaze follow long Alberta tradition.”  The Globe and Mail, 20 May 2016.  Web.  20 May 2016.

1:1 Hello English 470A!

Hello English 470A!

Welcome to our interactive inquiry of the Canadian identity!

What and who is Canadian?  Ive heard a joke about a Canadian walking into a tree and then profusely apologizing to it; for a joke to be funny it has to contain some degree of truth.  Yes, we are known for politeness, universal health care, and being an honest broker in global affairs.   But what constructs the Canadian identity?  Is our community a product of our imagination?  Some say that is the nature of nationalism.  How does Canada being a contact zone for Indigenous, European, and all sorts of cultures make this space what it is today?  At the dawn of the country’s 150th birthday, questions are raised by a University of Calgary law professor as to the authenticity of the story and the invisibility of the indigenous peoples in the formal frame work.  Did Canada only begin to exist on July 1, 1867?  What is the story and does it hold water?

Stories matter.  They help us make sense of the world.  Whether it has been created by a raven or sits on the back of a turtle from these narratives we excavate meaning, and extract lessons on relating to our surroundings.  I care deeply about the stories of the people living in a northern Cree community whose worlds are in such dire despair they want to take their own lives.  Why?  What happened?

I’m excited to be in the course and look forward to creating something bigger than its parts with all of you.  As second generation Canadian from an immigrant family the Canadian identity is something in constantly think about.  Whether you are first or tenth generation – what does being Canadian mean to you?  What is your story?

On a lighter note, below is the story of passage from being immigrants to Canadians.

Works Cited

Mahoney, Kathleen. “The roadblock to reconciliation: Canada’s origin story is false.” The Globe and Mail 10 May 2016. Web. 11 May 2016.

Peters, Russell. “How to become a Canadian citizen.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 17 Nov. 2014. Web. 11 May 2016.

Stefanovich, Olivia. “First Nation leaders call for action from Justin Trudeau on Attawapiskat suicide crisis.” CBC/Radio Canada 8 May 2016. Web. 11 May 2016.

“Yaahl gin tlaawhlaas gyaahlaangaay, Raven Creation Story.” Council of the Haida Nation: 2013. Web. 11 May 2016.