Journeying Through Engl 407: Oh Canada

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3:7 – Hyperlinking The Four Old Indians in GGRW

Write a blog that hyper-links your research on the characters in GGRW according to the pages assigned to you. Be sure to make use of Jane Flick’s reference guide on your reading list.

As a preface to this blog post, I will say that Green Grass Running Water was not an easy read for me. In researching about the connotations of the Four Old Indians, though, I hope to have gained at least a bit of a better understanding of King’s allusions and of his story in general. I strongly welcome feedback or additional insights from anyone reading!

Please note that the page numbers I’m drawing from, in the Kindle version of GGRW, will not coincide with print versions. The section I am covering, though, is the roughly 20 pages (pgs 100-126 in my Kindle) that detail aftermaths of the escape of the four Indians from Dr. Hovaugh’s institution.

The Four Old Indians

The names of the Four Old Indians (Hawkeye, Lone Ranger, Ishmael, and Robinson Crusoe) may initially strike readers (who are familiar with these allusions) as strange— strange because these names typically connotate White men rather than Indian men. From my own understanding, though, King chose these rather ironic names on purpose. In the book, the Four Old Indians are portrayed as clever; they “just disappear,” and their mystical escape from Dr. Joseph Hovaugh’s hospital coupled with their intent to fix the world places them into a heroic light (King, 100). Rather than being the forgotten sidekick, the Four Old Indians are in fact, the heroes. As you will see in my research that follows, the White man is usually depicted as the hero/saviour in literature and pop culture, while the Indian man is relegated to sidekick. In naming the Four Old Indians after these traditionally White heroic figures, King ultimately subverts and reclaims stereotypes and misconceptions about Indians, and in a way, effectively rewrites the original stories too.

Nathaniel “Natty” Bumppo, aka Hawkeye, is the White frontiersman and protagonist/hero of James Fenimoore Cooper’s collection of novels called The Leatherstocking Tales. Although he has an Indian sidekick known as Chingachgook aka Indian John, depicted as a “noble savage” and the last of his tribe, Hawkeye himself has “knowledge of the ‘Indian ways'” (Flick,142).

Lone Ranger
Perhaps one of the most easily recognized allusions in GGRW and elsewhere, Lone Ranger is the hero of Western books, television series, and of numerous movies (Flick,141). He is portrayed as a masked and heroic man whose true identity is known only by his Indian companion, Tonto. Although Tonto is depicted as a virtuous sidekick to Lone Ranger, critics and scholars suggest that in rendering him unable to master the English language, his portrayal is ultimately one of intellectual inferiority.

Robinson Crusoe
Also a highly popular literary character, Robinson Crusoe is portrayed as the quintessential self-reliant man, stuck on an island for twenty-eight years. His Indian sidekick, Friday, however, is depicted as a cannibalistic and primitive man. Friday is also portrayed as being “saved” by Crusoe, who later teaches him English and converts him to Christianity. This is again a prime example of the noble savage being “redeemed” by Western/Eurocentric qualities, and clearly supports the notion that white = advanced while Indian = primitive.

A literary figure popularized by Moby Dick, Ishmael is the last standing character and the only survivor in the novel (Flick, 143). Though his sidekick, Queenqueg, is of South Pacific Islander descent, he is still representative of the non-White sidekick trope. Portrayed as a primitive cannibal, he is also a great friend of Ishmael’s. However it is Queenqueg who ultimately sinks and dies with the Pequod ship (which is named after the Pequot people, a Native American tribe) thus symbolizing the fall of the non-White character. Ishmael survives by staying afloat on the coffin Queenqueg preemptively asked to be made (he thought he was going to die of a fever), perhaps suggesting that Queenqueg was ultimately just a crutch for Ishmael, a means to his own (apparently more important) survival. This is consistent with all the sidekicks’ I’ve outlined- their survival or importance is always second to the White characters’. The figure of Ishmael could also be a reference to Abraham’s disavowed and first son, as depicted in religious texts, though, I am less certain as to how this may be connected to the larger context of GGRW. Thoughts, anyone?

Works Cited

“Chingachgook: Fictional Character.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. 2014. Web. 30 July 2016.

Flick, Jane “Reading Notes for Thomas King’s Green Grass Running Water“. Toronto, Harper Collins, 1994. Web. 30 July 2016.

Kim, Wook. “Friday, Robinson Crusoe.” Time Magazine. Time Inc, 2016. 16 Dec. 2011. Web. 30 July 2016.

King, Thomas. Green Grass Running Water. HarperCollins Publishers E-Books. 2010. Kindle file.

“Noble Savage: Literary Concept.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. 2014. Web. 30 July 2016.

Schilling, Vincent. “7 Things You Should Know About the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.” Indian Country Today. Indian Country Today Media Network, LLC. 3 Sept. 2015. Web. 30 July 2016.

“Tonto: Fictional Character.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. 2014. Web. 30 July 2016.

3:5 – Creation Stories and Ethos

Question 3

What are the major differences or similarities between the ethos of the creation story or stories you are familiar with and the story King tells in The Truth About Stories ?

Growing up, I wasn’t knowledgeable about any one creation story in particular; perhaps I can partly attribute this to not being raised religiously, since most religions do contain some kind of narrative about the beginning of the world/mankind. Like many others, though, I did know bits and pieces of the biblical Genesis creation story (it’s hard not to living in the Western world).

Regardless of which specific creation story one is familiar with, to really understand the story one must carefully consider its ethos, “the characteristic spirit… as manifested in its beliefs and aspirations” ( In this blog post, I will attempt to compare the differences and similarities between the ethos of the bible’s Genesis creation story and the story King tells in The Truth About Stories. 

To begin with, there are some general similarities and differences between these two stories which, in turn, inform the ethos of either one. Perhaps the most obvious similarity is that both Genesis and King’s story depend on interactions between humans and animals. In the bible, Eve interacts solely with the serpent (Satan), while in King’s creation story, Charm interacts with many different animals. A notable difference between the two stories, though, is the implications of these interactions between human and animal— specifically, between woman and animal. In Genesis, the interaction between Eve and the serpent quite clearly has negative implications; her curiosity (and subsequent temptation) to eat from the tree of knowledge leads to the destruction of the world God has created. In King’s story, however, Charm’s curiosity or her “nosiness” (first exemplified when she wonders why she has five toes), eventually leads to her and the many animals’ joint creation of the world. While both Eve and Charm do have agency and do derive some kind of power from said agency, only Eve’s is portrayed in a negative light— one can ultimately see how there is misogyny rooted in Genesis.

Both Genesis and King’s story also highlight potential differences between Western and Indigenous thought. For example, in King’s story, we can clearly see how interconnected and shared the creation process is; the world is created and livened via the dedicated teamwork of Charm, her twins, and all the animals combined. As King eloquently puts it, the universe in his story “is governed by a series of co-operations” (23). The story of Genesis, in contrast, consists of a solitary creation effort— God creates the entire world himself and only relies on Adam and Eve to propagate it further. This is not to suggest that Western thought lacks complexity, though; rather, this simply suggests that the nature of Indigenous thought is very much holistic and harmonious. In reading King’s other book, Green Grass Running Water, one can also sense this type of harmony and interconnection, particularly through the metaphor of the Medicine Wheel.

Although attending a Western university means that I have studied the likes of Genesis in works such as Paradise Lost, I find great value and appreciation in being exposed to the Indigenous storytelling approach that can be seen in both The Truth About Stories and Green Grass Running Water. Rather than “believ[ing] one story to be sacred… [and] see[ing] the other as secular,” perhaps we should all instead be receptive to the unique teachings that each story may have to offer (King, 25).

Works Cited

“Ethos.” Dictionary. LLC. N.d. Web. 19 Jul. 2016.

“Genesis 1-3:24 – New International Version.” Bible Gateway. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Jul. 2016.

King, Thomas. The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative. Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 2003. Print.

“Medicine Ways: Traditional Healers and Healing.” Native Peoples Concepts of Health and Illness. N.d. Web. 19 Jul. 2016.

3:2 – Dehumanization in The Indian Act of 1876

Question 2

In this lesson I say that it should be clear that the discourse on nationalism is also about ethnicity and ideologies of “race.” If you trace the historical overview of nationalism in Canada in the CanLit guide, you will find many examples of state legislation and policies that excluded and discriminated against certain peoples based on ideas about racial inferiority and capacities to assimilate. – and in turn, state legislation and policies that worked to try to rectify early policies of exclusion and racial discrimination. As the guide points out, the nation is an imagined community, whereas the state is a “governed group of people.” For this blog assignment, I would like you to research and summarize one of the state or governing activities, such as The Royal Proclamation 1763, the Indian Act 1876, Immigration Act 1910, or the Multiculturalism Act 1989 – you choose the legislation or policy or commission you find most interesting. Write a blog about your findings and in your conclusion comment on whether or not your findings support Coleman’s argument about the project of white civility.

Nationalism, or as Benedict Anderson calls it, the belief in an imagined community, has had severe consequences throughout history— particularly for racial minorities. Despite state legislation/policies to rectify said consequences, many of them have ironically perpetuated racial discrimination and exclusion further. The Indian Act, which I will discuss in this blog post, is just one of the many pieces of legislation which has perpetuated these ideas. 

The Indian Act is something many of us may be only vaguely familiar with (as I mentioned in my very first blog post, many of the atrocities committed against Indigenous peoples have been and continue to be swept under the rug). While it is widely regarded as an abominable piece of legislation, I had not actually read the official document up until now. To my surprise, its contents are even more horrific than I imagined.

Perhaps one of the most shocking things about The Indian Act (and there are many), is the fact that it claims to be “an act to amend and consolidate the laws respecting Indians” (The Indian Act, 1). Respecting Indians. I couldn’t help but notice the sheer lack of self-awareness in this very declaration. It is virtually impossible to suppose that such an act could be considered respectful of Indians, especially when its terms and conditions include the following (not exhaustive):

  • Denial of women status
  • Residential schools
  • Creation of reserves
  • Restriction of First Nations from leaving reserves without permission
  • Deeming of the potlatch and other cultural ceremonies as illegal

Equally shocking is the language with which The Indian Act uses to dehumanize Indigenous peoples. For example, the act states that “half-breeds” are not considered Indians unless “under very special circumstances” and are “not entitled to be admitted into any Indian treaty” (The Indian Act, 2). Even more blatantly, the act asserts that “the term person means an individual other than an Indian,” quite literally denying the personhood of Indigenous peoples (The Indian Act, 3). The possible implications of this are unnerving— if the act doesn’t consider Indians persons, what do they consider them to be? Less than human? The act also states that it itself was formed out of expediency… “whereas it is expedient to amend and consolidate the laws respecting Indians” (The Indian Act, 1). It is baffling and demoralizing to consider that each of the conditions in this act were put forth simply because it was convenient to do so.

The Indian Act ultimately exists and hides behind the pretense of helping Indigenous peoples adapt and assimilate, but it actually serves to sort them into what Coleman would call “White Civility.” In blatantly disregarding customs such as the potlatch and imposing Eurocentric and patriarchal notions of family on Indigenous populations, the act actually functions as a segregating and discriminatory piece of legislation under the guise of “respecting Indians.” It is important to note that this document does not mark the first (or the last, for that matter) instance of discrimination against Indigenous peoples. It is also worthy to note the very real and pervasive effects these acts of discrimination can and do have on Indigenous populations.

Works Cited

Boyden, Joseph. “The hurting: What can even begin to stem the tide of brutal loss?” Macleans. Rogers Media. 1 July 2010. Web. 7 July 2016.

 Jacobs, Beverley. “Marginalization of Aboriginal Women: A Brief History of the Marginalization of Aboriginal Women in Canada.” Indigenous Foundations UBC. First Nations and Indigenous Studies. n.d. Web. 7 July 2016.

2:6 – Western and Indigenous Assessments of “Authenticity”

5] “To raise the question of ‘authenticity’ is to challenge not only the narrative but also the ‘truth’ behind Salish ways of knowing “(Carlson 59). Explain why this is so according to Carlson, and explain why it is important to recognize this point.

In Keith Carlson’s Orality about Literacy: The ‘Black and White’ of Salish History, he exposes and critiques Western misconceptions of Salish people in regards to their history of literacy (or, as ethnocentrically Western worldviews purport, their lack thereof). He calls upon, for instance, Okanagan elder Harry Robinson’s story of Coyote and his white twin brother, as well as Bertha Peters’ narrative of the transformed chiefs. Both Robinson’s and Peters’ accounts share one overarching commonality— that God intended for Salish people to be literate. Yet despite these narratives and the fact that they contain post-contact content, they are still referred to by Westerners or newcomers as “legends” or “mythologies” (Carlson 56). Westerners have and likely will continue to perpetuate the idea that they imposed literacy upon North American aboriginals via colonialism— but why? Carlson tackles this question by appealing to the discrepancies between Western and Salish assessments of what constitutes “authenticity” as well as historical accuracy.

The Salish, by and large, do not have any conception of “authenticity”— in fact, “neither reality nor authenticity is part of the indigenous criteria for assessing stories” (Carlson 56-57). Rather than authentic or inauthentic stories (such as teek-whl or sqwélqwel), there are instead better remembered/conveyed or less well-remembered/conveyed stories (Carlson 57). And as such, there exists a fundamental confusion among Westerners in regards to how to assess historical accounts of Salish literacy, one that has led largely to their lack of insight into Salish historical consciousness.

Historical accuracy, which both Westerners and the Salish are highly concerned with, is also assessed in highly opposing ways. For Westerners (especially those in academia), historical accuracy is dependent on verifiable and concrete evidence (Carlson 57). We as students in the Western world know that citing evidence (whether in a works cited page or a bibliography) is crucial; failure to do so will often be construed as plagiarism! For the Salish, however, historical accuracy is assessed via “relations to people’s memories of previous renditions or versions of a narrative and in relation to the teller’s status and reputation as an authority” (Carlson 57).

In questioning the authenticity of Salish people’s narratives, newcomers/Westerners are, as Professor Paterson suggests, challenging fundamental Salish ways of knowing; they are essentially challenging an entire worldview and another group’s way of being, all while simultaneously imposing their worldviews upon them. Having been immersed in one worldview for the majority of my life, I can somewhat understand the biases one may have in thinking that their view, one they have long been steeped in, may be best. It is by no means an easy feat to expand one’s ways of knowing (or to even attempt to understand other ways), however, it is absolutely necessary to do so; like in this course, it is only possible to be enlightened with informed insights and understandings if one is truly receptive and open to worldviews aside from their own. Perhaps equally important to being receptive is having access to these worldviews in the first place— is knowing of them. Ensuring that we do not silence Indigenous voices, then, is also vital. Ignorance prevents us from taking steps necessary to understand and it also breeds intolerance. Taking the initiative and time to understand Indigenous worldviews may help pave the way (no matter how slowly) towards true reconciliation.

Works Cited

Carlson, Keith Thor. “Orality and Literacy: The ‘Black and White’ of Salish History.” Orality & Literacy: Reflections Across Disciplines. 43-72. Print

Paquin, Mali Ilse. “Unsolved murders of indigenous women reflect Canada’s history of silence.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. 25 June 2015. Web. 29 June 2016.

Gilmore, Scott. “Canada’s race problem? It’s even worse than America’s.” Macleans. Rogers Media. 22 Jan 2015. Web. 29 June 2016.

2:3 – Commonalities in Conceptions of “Home”

Read at least 3 students blog short stories about ‘home’ and make a list of the common shared assumptions, values and stories that you find. Post this list on your blog with some commentary about what you discovered.

After reading through my fellow classmates’ stories about home this week, I noticed a few commonalities; in particular, I noticed these three prevailing ideas:

  1. Home is not necessarily place dependent. In my own stories about home, I focussed heavily on the intersection between home and place— that home was informed by place and by the physical features of place. After reading through my classmates’ stories, however, I realize that home manifests in so many ways other than in the tangible form of place. In John’s blog, for example, he puts it eloquently that home “is a feeling, a collection of thoughts” (Wang). Another fellow student, Nick, commented on my blog post that home “could be a feeling about a place, but also about an activity, or some other thing” (Babey).
  2. We can accredit our feelings of being “at home” largely to our personal relations with people. I noticed this was especially prevalent in my own blog this week, as I referenced a loved one at least once in each of my individual stories. In Lorraine’s blog, she discusses filial piety; her question of “when my family is gone then where is my home?” resonates deeply with me and I think too with everyone else (Shen). Whether one considers their kin those who are related by blood, or simply those who have shown them true loyalty and kindness, the connection between family and home is a particularly strong one.
  3. Home is not always static. Although some people may believe that home is necessarily something stable or something rooted, I think many of the stories from this week’s assignment challenge this notion. For example, in Alanna’s posting, she discusses how her “constant moving around” has actually made it such that she “doesn’t need personal pictures or specific people to feel at home” (Joy). The very idea that home can manifest in so many different ways also demonstrates that conceptions of home can evolve and change.

2:2 – Stories About “Home”

Write a short story (600 – 1000 words max) that describes your sense of home and the values and stories that you use to connect yourself to your home and respond to all comments on your blog.

Initial Thoughts

Last semester in English 222, I read Defining Place, an article written by human geographer Tim Cresswell. In attempting to answer the daunting question posed by this week’s assignment (what/where exactly is “home?”), I’ve found that this article in particular has resonated with me.

In it, Cresswell argues that three conditions must be met in order for place to become meaningful— namely, it must include a location, a locale, and a “sense” of place. While location simply refers to geographical whereabouts, locale refers to the material settings in which social relations are conducted. “Sense” of place, finally, refers to the subjective and emotional attachment people have to place.

While I’ve found Cresswell’s conditions inspiring, I have to wonder if they can also be applied in my task of defining “home.” Are “meaningful place” and “home” simply interchangeable terms, and if not, how exactly does one define “home?”

Perhaps telling stories about our homes can help us to pinpoint its elusive definition; without further ado, here are some of my personal stories about home.

My Sense of Home 

The house I grew up in was home because of its white and beige exterior trimmings, which inevitably began to weather after enduring 20 years of Canadian climate. It was home because of the five fruit trees my dad planted, which towered over the backyard grass, the flower gardens, and even the gigantic maple tree my childhood friend Ashley and I climbed (and fell out of) when we were six. It was home because of the distinct amalgamated smell of incense and my dad’s famous curry, an aroma that filled the nose of anyone and everyone who happened to drop by on a Sunday night. It was home because of a certain black cat named Salem, who, shedding her black fur, marked the carpets, much of the furniture, and many of my white clothes to my dismay. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the house I grew up in was home because it was constantly livened and warmed by people— those who lived in it, those who visited for just a few days, and even those who merely passed in and out.

But the dorm room I lived in during my first year at UBC was also home. It was home because of the white brick walls, which, covered in 4×6 glossy digital printouts, captured and displayed all of my favourite memories. It was nonetheless home because of the musky carpet, which had surely suffered countless spills and accidents from the previous students before me. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the dorm room I lived in during my first year at UBC was home because it shared a wall with my one of my dear childhood friends, Audrey, who lived next door on the right.

Across the world, China was also home. It was home because my grandmother’s house in Guangzhou contained an actual sit down toilet (to accommodate her Western family) as opposed to the “squatting” toilets normative in China. It was home because, despite strange looks I would get (people often thought I was adopted because I look more Caucasian), strangers were genuinely curious and willing to both accept and embrace my presence. Finally, China was home because I got to spend the most quality and priceless months with my favorite person— my dad.


my dad and I in Shanghai, circa 2004








Concluding Thoughts

Prior to beginning this assignment, I was inclined to believe that home was more feeling dependant than it was dependent on physical features of place (meaning that I favoured Cresswell’s notion of a sense of place over his notions of location and locale). But, upon telling the stories of my homes, I’ve realized that any place I’ve ever considered “home” has indeed had some physical feature(s) which invoked feelings of belonging and of emotional attachment. I’ve come to the conclusion that physical features of place inform our emotional attachments to place, and, collectively, contribute to feelings of “home.” This is conversely true as well; our emotions and subjective feelings, similarly, inform our attachment to physical features in place, and collectively, contribute to feelings of “home.”

With all that being said, I’m interested in whether you think that Cresswell’s three conditions of location, locale, and sense of place are adequate in defining “home.” Why or why not? Do you think “home” is more feeling dependent or dependent on physical features of place?

Works Cited

 Cresswell, Tim. “Place: A Short Introduction.” Blackwell Publishing (2004). 1-14. Web. 5 Jun. 2016.

Iyer, Pico. “Where is home?” Ted Conferences (2013). Web. 5 Jun. 2016.

1:5 – How Evil Came to Be

At the end of this lesson you will find detailed instructions for this assignment. Your task is to take the story that Kings tells about how evil comes into the world at the witches conference [In “The Truth About Stories” ] — and change the story any way you want — as long as the end remains the same: once you have told a story, you can never take it back. So, be careful of the stories you tell, AND the stories you listen to. 

Then learn your story by heart, and then tell the story to your friends and family. When you are finished, post a blog with your version of the story and some commentary on what you discovered. If you want, you can post a video of you telling the story, in place of text.

How Evil Came to Be 

There is a story I know. It’s about a woman who had two faces. But no one knew she had two faces, for, she only revealed one of them in the light of the day. Many thousands of years ago, this woman lived in a small town populated with folks of all kinds— merchants, labouring men, women, and their children. Now, this woman often stood behind a shoddy wooden stand in the town’s marketplace, auctioning off trinkets and bottled concoctions supposedly possessing metaphysical powers. The town folk were wary of her, though, and warned their children not to stray too far near her, for they had heard rumours of her wickedness from the animals that lurked the streets at night.

One fateful night, however, a young boy of no more than 6 found himself wandering through the cobblestoned marketplace, in search for the whale-shaped stone he had found earlier that day while playing near his father’s kiosk. His eyes, scanning the ground intently, were suddenly drawn to a rather curious looking jewel, which seemed to glisten in the light of the full moon. Lurching forward to pocket the strange ornament, he was startled by the hooting of an owl. And, when the boy looked up, he was startled again by the sight of an old woman standing before him, immediately noticing her straggly black hair, which hung to her waist, and her piercing blue eyes which swelled as though ready to spill out at any given moment. Of course, innocent as he were, the boy gestured the jewel to the woman thinking that it must be hers. But he froze petrified, in the midst of his movement, because the old woman’s head began to turn. And creak. And then turn again. Her head continued to turn until it had swivelled halfway around her wrinkly neck, revealing a face that was unknown to mankind— unknown to the innocence of a child. The boy’s body instantaneously fell lifeless, and with that, Evil prevailed and Innocence was lost forever.

The town’s animals, the only true witnesses, murmured amongst one another, mourning the fall of Innocence. They told the story of the two-faced woman far and wide throughout the town, but the people were stricken and most refused to listen. “But, of course, it was too late. For once a story is told, it cannot be called back. Once told, it is loose in the world” (King, 10).


My imagination has fallen quite a bit to the wayside since I was a child, and I think this shows in my story. I found it pretty difficult to come up with a preliminary idea that was completely original, but I guess all ideas draw from some previous influence (whether subconsciously or consciously). The difference between written storytelling and oral storytelling became so apparent to me through this assignment; I told my story aloud to friends and family and found the intonation of my speaking so important in portraying it how I imagined. With the written version, I found that it sounded more story-like to me if I wrote it out in the same way I would say it aloud. For example, usually I wouldn’t start sentences with “but” or “and,” yet the story seemed to flow much more organically when I did. I tried to leave parts of the story open to interpretation (names of characters and names of places) such that a reader/listener could construct the story as they saw it in their own mind. This was definitely a challenge to me creatively.

Works Cited

King, Thomas. The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative. Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 2003. Print.

Popova, Maria. “Networked Knowledge and Combinatorial Creativity.” Brain Pickings. n.p. n.d. Web. 29 May 2016.

1:3 – Ethics in Storytelling

Question 7

At the beginning of this lesson I pointed to the idea that technological advances in communication tools have been part of the impetus to rethink the divisive and hierarchical categorizing of literature and orality, and suggested that this is happening for a number of reasons.  I’d like you to consider two aspects of digital literature: 1) social media tools that enable widespread publication, without publishers, and 2) Hypertext, which is the name for the text that lies beyond the text you are reading, until you click. How do you think these capabilities might be impacting literature and story?

Social media has revolutionized how we interact with stories through an array of customizable platforms available to anyone and everyone. Whether these stories be fact or fiction, in written or oral form, the very fact that mediation is no longer a requirement for publishing these stories means that they exist in great quantities online (just look at how many stories this fan fiction website contains). But what about the quality of these stories and their impact? As demonstrated continually in this week’s Edward Chamberlin reading, stories are vitally important and may even carry a certain moral weight. And so, the fact that anyone can publish an unmediated story on social media, I think, raises concerns about the morality of telling these stories.

In continuing with Professor Paterson’s point that stories are highly interconnected to time and place, perhaps it could be suggested that imaginary stories and real stories each have respective times and places to be told. However, according to Chamerblin, all stories are an intersection upon which imagination and reality are brought together, so I suppose it would be more accurate to say that predominantly imaginary and predominantly real stories each have their respective time and place to be told (3). To highlight this point, I’d like to compare storytelling on GoFundMe to (for simplicity’s sake) a cliché instance of storytelling around a campfire.

GoFundMe advertises their website as a platform to share stories, attract support, and create fundraising campaigns. Place, in this context, is the actual webpage which advertises one’s story. The time to do so, as indicated by the website’s FAQ, is during “life’s important moments” including for funerals or memorials. Given the contextual cues of place and time as indicated by the website, it’s fairly safe to say that sharing a predominantly imaginary story would be an immoral use of the website. It would even seem to be an immoral use of story as a medium alone. And while instances of this kind of violation are relatively uncommon, they do unfortunately exist and can be facilitated through social media. Hyperlinking, an integral tool used in social media, may also facilitate immoral use of storytelling; GoFundMe, in fact, encourages its users to garner support (money) from friends and family by linking and sharing their stories via the website’s “built in connections to Facebook, Twitter, & Email.”

In a different context of time and place, though, a predominantly imaginary story may be more morally appropriate. For example, on a cadet camping excursion, around a campfire, a mythical tale told in the dark of the night would most likely not violate the sanctity of storytelling, nor give rise to questions of morality.

What I’ve ultimately articulated in this blog post (or at least tried to), is that it is not solely the degree of truth or falsehood in a story which dictates the morality of telling the story; rather, it is both the degree of truth or falsehood as well as the specific context of time and place  that are integral in delineating whether it is moral or not to tell it.

The anonymity of social media coupled with its widespread popularity means, to me, that immoral uses of these platforms (especially in how stories are told) may become increasingly pervasive in time. Although this is perhaps a cynical view to hold, I do still believe that social media is mostly advantageous. As with anything else, the misuse of social media is ultimately a problem of the individuals misusing it, though it is still important to be wary of how these platforms may facilitate or even incentivize their misuse.

Works Cited 

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

“Common Questions” GoFundMe. n.d. Web. 20 May 2016.

“Harry Potter Fanfiction: The Story Continues.” n.p., n.d. Web. 20 May 2016.

Paterson, Erika. “Lesson 1.2 Story & Literature.” ENGL 470A Canadian Studies: Canadian Literary Genres May 2016. University of British Columbia, 2016. Web. 20 May 2016.

Payne, Marissa. “Police seek person who set up fake GoFundMe account for high school athlete with cancer.” The Washington Post. 23 Dec. 2015. Web. 20 May 2016.

1:1 – An Introduction

Hi everyone! My name is Victoria and I am currently in the midst of completing my third year at UBC while studying English literature. I was born and raised in the city of Surrey— a place many of you are surely familiar with, though probably for its high crime rate rather than for its vibrant multiculturalism. I am of mixed ethnicity (my father is Chinese while my mother is Polish/Irish), so I very much enjoy being able to experience a fusion of cultures, particularly for the food (I’m only half kidding).


Vegetarians/vegans beware. Cantonese styled crab aka mouth-watering goodness. 

A personal philosophy I subscribe to is one of admitting and accepting ignorance in order to truly gain critical insights into an issue, and so I will admit that I have only taken one Canadian literature course prior to enrolling in English 407 with all of you. I will also admit that I was unaware of much of Canada’s colonial history throughout high school and even into my first year at UBC, despite being fairly educated by then. Perhaps other Canadian citizens, like myself, have also been plagued by this same kind of ignorance; I have to wonder, then, if some of the widely idealized perceptions of Canada (just listen to the Americans promising to flee here if Donald Trump is elected) exist, at least in part, because atrocities concerning our Indigenous population (both past and contemporary) continue to be swept under the rug or denied altogether.

As outlined by Professor Erika Paterson, English 407 is a course which aims to help students “recognize colonizing narratives and representations.” As a literature major, my main focus in this course is to eventually “be able to discuss, research, and write about the intersections and departures between literature and story,” all while fostering compassionate sensibilities as I delve deeper into our country’s controversial past (Paterson). I am ultimately hopeful for an eye-opening introduction to Indigenous discourse.

I look forward to becoming better acquainted with you all!

Works Cited 

D’entremont, Deidre. “Seeking Justice for Canada’s 500 Missing Native Women.” The International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People. Cultural Survival., Fall 2004. Web. 12 May 2016.

O’Keefe, Derrick. “Harper in Denial at G20: Canada has ‘no history of Colonialism.'” Rabble. N.p., 28 Sept. 2009. Web. 12 May 2016.

Paterson, Erika. “Welcome.” ENGL 470A Canadian Studies Canadian Literary Genres May 2016. N.p., 13 Nov. 2013. Web. 12 May 2016.

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