Assignment 3:7 – Mirror Reflections between George Morningstar & George Custer

Please select a section of the book approximately 10 to 15 pages – depending on the section with characters that you would like to research further.


George Morningstar: An Allusion to General George Armstrong Custer

For this assignment, I’ve chosen the pages 242-259 and write about George Morningstar, his actions and the effects of his actions on his wife Latisha, and how their story alludes to General George Armstrong Custer in the Civil War.

George Morningstar is first mentioned on pages 56-57, and readers immediately learn from Lionel that George “used to beat the hell out of [Latisha]” (57). A character who embodies extreme American patriotism and one who doesn’t hesitate to enact his values and beliefs in real life, his continual abuse toward Latisha (initially through physical, then emotionally with his absence after her pregnancy with Elizabeth) is King’s way of tying his story with the torture and mass genocide upon the Native Americans at the hands of General George Armstrong Custer.

There are uncanny (and obviously intentional) similarities made between George Morningstar and General George Armstrong Custer. For starters, both are tall with shoulder-length hair. Secondly, they both originated from Ohio and were raised in Michigan (Bio 2015). An interesting fact that makes George Morningstar resemble even more to George Custer is that they both wrote long, descriptive letters to their wives/girlfriends that detailed their “journeys” through America. The most uncanny of them all, however, is the physical, emotional, and psychological damage both have done to the Native Americans: George Morningstar’s disrespect, abuse and lack of responsibility to Latisha along with his utter apathy for the Indigenous culture closely parallels General George Custer’s hostility and indifference toward the Native Americans he killed at the Battle of Little Bighorn (Bio 2015).

George Morningstar’s downfall is his simple thinking and plain irrationality. Between the pages 242-259, readers watch him turn his wishful daydreams of playing “housewife” into a reality by going on a rampage with buying unnecessary recipe books, kitchen tools and subsequently failing to produce anything edible. Eventually on pages 386-387, he suffers the consequences of underestimating, belittling and disobeying the rules at the Sun Dance by attempting to photograph the event and consequently has his camera film stripped from the canister. Similarly, General George Armstrong Custer underestimated the Native American warriors, overestimated his ability, relied too much on his foolish bravery, attacked Lakota Sioux and Southern Cheyenne without waiting for additional troops to aid and was killed as a result (Bio 2015). Exactly like the man King alludes to, Morningstar holds a kind of radicalized American patriotism that borderlines insanity, ultimately disabling him from seeing the true beauty and value in Native culture and traditions. His distorted beliefs prevent him from being open to perspectives that challenge America’s supremacy, thus parallels to General Custer’s attempted genocide and colonization of Native Americans.

Reasoning for my focus on George Morningstar

Morningstar’s character caught my attention because he really reminded me of my dad, named George as well. For the majority of my parents’ marriage, he was unemployed and only knew how to complain and lounge around at home. Providing for his family was never his priority, nor did he ever feel the need to be a good role model to his child. He was a kid himself, trapped in his own fantasies, blinded by his own selfish needs and never wanted to take responsibility in the real world. It was a relief when they finalized the divorced and see my mom move on with her life, just like how Latisha does: “And finally they became boring. Just like George. Even the poetry dulled. After Elizabeth was born, Latisha stopped reading them altogether, stuffed them into a brown grocery bag in her closet instead, leaving them to collect like dust in a corner” (259).


Works Cited

Flick, Jane. “Reading Notes for Thomas King’s “Green Grass, Running Water.”” Canadian Literature (1999): 140-72. Web. 26 July 2016.

“George Armstrong Custer.” History, 1991. Web. 26 July 2016.

“George Custer.” Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2015. Web. 26 July 2016.

“General George Custer, U.S.A.” Old Pictures. 2016. Web. 26 July 2016.

King, Thomas. Green Grass, Running Water. Toronto: Harper Perennial Canada, 1999. Print.

Assignment 3:5 – Coyote for Cultural Transcendence

Coyote Pedagogy is a term sometimes used to describe King’s writing strategies (Margery Fee and Jane Flick). Discuss your understanding of the role of Coyote in the novel.

coyote dreaming

I remember when I was seven or eight, I had seen a coyote in Queen Elizabeth Park while playing with my childhood friend. We weren’t far from our parents, but still far enough to feel fear when the animal looked straight at us. It was hidden among the bushes that were 50 meters or so away from us, and all we could feel was sheer panic. Our feet were rooted to the ground, our jaws were hanging agape, and before either of us could muster a sound, our moms yelled for us to come back. Whether they had also seen the coyote too or just simply timing by coincidence, my friend and I were silently relieved to scurry away back into the arms of our parents. Before reading Thomas King’s Green Grass, Running Water, I had no idea the animal could also be regarded as a humorous helper to the First Nations people.

Thomas King’s Green Grass, Running Water is a book that requires the reader to interpret signs from both reality and the mythological world, there is no denying that. The trickster Coyote takes on the role of a creator who challenges European cultural influence, and is one who remains outside of the narrative yet bridges the two opposing realities. Coyote’s identity can therefore be seen as juxtaposition to the Christian equivalent of God. However, due to the coexistence and clear predicament between the First Nations and European societies, his foremost role is a healer to the indigenous population. Despite Coyote’s mischievous, mystic, and some might even say controversial nature, his intentions are in the right place for wanting to fix the world. Even when this is so, Coyote’s poor reading of the vastly dissimilar culture and political model provoke the contemporary heros to search for their own home in a world that condemns diversion in civilization, like how Lionel and members of his tribe settle outside of Blackfoot territory.

Interestingly, Coyote assumes the role of both a teacher as well as a student. Yes, there are missteps to his calculations, but we can’t deny his eager attempts to be a disruptive element that combats colonial representations as well as stories of containment. His permanent conversations with the writer, heros, and even himself ultimately encourages the reader to take on a more invested conscience into the story. By turning the central story of Christianity into a Coyote story, King strategically reproduces the entire novel’s plan, which incorporates European history and culture, into the context of First Nations framework.

Coyote is pivotal not only in creation stories, but also vital when facilitating the cultural transcendence that King wishes his audience to gain. Not only is Coyote the embodiment of old and new Aboriginal practices, his figure is represented in both historical/mystical as well as in contemporary events of the novel. In Fee and Fick’s Coyote Pedagogy: Knowing Where the Borders Are in Thomas King’s Green Grass, Running Water they write, “This is Native pedagogy. We are not only being taught Native history, but we are also being taught it in the Native way – we are not just acquiring information, but learning how to process it differently” (138). Readers must throw away all past assumptions, stereotypes, misinformed beliefs on the Indigenous culture, and be willing to take in the novel’s material through cross-border thinking in order to get the complete joke.


Works Cited

Fee, Margery and Flick, Jane. “Coyote Pedagogy: Knowing Where the Borders Are in Thomas King’s Green Grass, Running Water. Canadian Literature 131 – 139. (1999). Web. 17 July 2016.

Hughes, Heather. “Where My Girls At? Searching For Coyote Woman.” Tangle and Spiral – A Daily Pattern, 10 June 2013. Web. 17 July 2016. Image.

King, Thomas. Green Grass, Running Water. Toronto: Harper Collins, 1993. Print.

“Meet Coyote, an Aboriginal “Legend.”” Aboriginal Tourism BC, 28 July 2015. Web. 17 July 2016.

Native American Indian Animals of Myth and Legend. Web. 17 July 2016.

Assignment 3:2 – Playing Hide & Seek With Multiculturalism

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.



Some of the most popular adjectives associated with Canada when our country is mentioned are “multicultural,” “accepting,” “peaceful, “respectful,” and “supportive.” But what happens when history is dug out and proves that things were (and are) anything but? Yes, we may have officialized a multicultural policy into an actual law; yes, the act is made to ensure that citizens are allowed to freely practice their religions and preserve their identities and beliefs; and ultimately, yes, the act guarantees equality for all mankind before the law. But what does all of this really mean when the concept of multiculturalism still has controversies tied to its name?

When Pierre Trudeau first introduced the notion through federal government policies in 1971 and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney executed the Multiculturalism Act in 1988, their goal was to turn the young nation from a melting pot into a diverse cultural mosaic. Although the noble objective of re-building a society that encompasses a variety of different cultural and ethnic groups into one that co-exists in harmony through mutual respect and equality received much support, many also caught on that the Multiculturalism Act perpetuated the designation and isolation of particular groups as outside the governing society. In his book Selling Illusions (1994), Neil Bissoondath argues that “multiculturalism leads to ethnic and cultural segregation and the ghettoization of cultural groups rather than to an integrated community” (CanLit Guides). This confirms Coleman’s feelings of white civility in that a Caucasian Anglo-Canadian “still occupies the position of normalcy and privilege in Canada” (Coleman 37). There is an inherent sense of supremacy that they hold in every action and conduct: for example, when visible minority members first immigrate to Canada, they are often welcomed only by white Anglo-Canadians and are expected to be gracious for such an opportunity to reside, therefore consequently developing a toxic host/guest hierarchy.

One point which CanLit Guides makes that really hit home for me is that our multiculturalism policy “can be easily reduced to token displays of diversity (food, song, and dance) instead of dealing with actual social injustices.” This is particularly true when it comes to the geographical layout of where minorities are populated: Chinatown on East Hastings and Richmond, Indiatown in Southeast Vancouver and Surrey, Little Italy on Commercial Drive and North Burnaby and so on. This phenomenon, otherwise known as the growing of ethnoburbs, are suburban ethnic bands of commercial and residential developments within metropolitan areas. In my opinion, if Canada believes it is multicultural simply by allowing those of different ethnicities and cultures to live in this country, then it is wrong. What concerns me is the lack of actual genuine amount of cultural-sharing amongst each other. Instead, our cultural mosaic has created new communities of its own that are only dominant in one ethnicity. We have failed to deliver multiculturalism in its truest essence: the kind of diversity that permits different cultures to unconditionally accept and respect each other as well as exist side-by-side in the same space without the need to isolate one from another. I am sorry for having people to feel like the only way to reach for support and achieve a sense of community is through their own enthnoburb; a multicultural society is only multicultural when social networks are not segregated, and when we see people from all over the world walking, living, and enjoying themselves on the same street.



Works Cited

Bissoondath, Neil. Selling Illusions: The Cult of Multiculturalism in Canada. Toronto: Penguin, 1994. Print.

Chan, Arlene. “From Chinatown to Ethnoburb: The Chinese in Toronto.” The 5th WCILCOS International Conference of Institutes and Libraries for Chinese Overseas Studies. 16 May 2012. Web. 7 July 2016.

Coleman, Daniel. “Writing Dislocation: Transculturalism, Gender, Immigrant Families: Conversation with Ven Begamudre.” Canadian Literature 149 (1996): 36-51. Web. 7 July 2016.

“Nationalism, 1980s Onwards: Contesting Multiculturalism.” CanLit Guides. UBC, n.d. Web. 7 July 2016.

“Punjabi Market Guide.” Tourism Vancouver. Web. 7 July 2016.

Washington, A.J. “Demographic Replacement: Vancouver, Babel Columbia.” Heresy. 2 February 2015. Web. 7 July 2016. Image.

Assignment 2:6 – Participatory Role in Literature

1) In his article, “Godzilla vs. Post-Colonial,” King discusses Robinson’s collection of stories. King explains that while the stories are written in English, “the patterns, metaphors, structures as well as the themes and characters come primarily from oral literature.” More than this, Robinson, he says “develops what we might want to call an oral syntax that defeats reader’s efforts to read the stories silently to themselves, a syntax that encourages readers to read aloud” and in so doing, “recreating at once the storyteller and the performance” (186). Read “Coyote Makes a Deal with King of England”, in Living by Stories. Read it silently, read it out loud, read it to a friend, and have a friend read it to you. See if you can discover how this oral syntax works to shape meaning for the story by shaping your reading and listening of the story. Write a blog about this reading/listening experience that provides references to the story.




King nails it in his article “Godzilla vs. Post-Colonial” when he highlights the strategic usage of oral syntax prevalent in Robinson’s story “Coyote Makes A Deal with the King of England.” With his repetition of words and phrases, along with abrupt deviations in plots and thoughts, one can hardly keep up with the flow of the story … Unless it is verbally read aloud. This is Robinson’s weapon that swiftly combats silence, and instead, naturally encourages the reader to share the story with another person. You see, the goal is to bring the story alive, to shorten the distance between the storyteller and the listener, and Robinson successfully does so by writing in a way that has the reader pause in the appropriate places, emphasize tones at certain endings, and even act out storylines with gestures, like when the black and white law book is “about this long and about this wide” (Robinson 84).

Repetition is an undeniably obvious factor in Robinson’s piece, and he certainly plays it to his advantage when creating a rhythmic tune to the sentences and overall structure. For example:

            God sent the Angel to Coyote.
            Sent the Angel.
            Do you know what the Angel was?

            Do you know?

            The Angel, God’s Angel, you know.

            They sent that to Coyote.

            And Angel flew and get to Coyote (Robinson 66).

The words “God,” “Angel,” “Coyote” and “sent” are particularly emphasized through constant reinforcement, and thus become instilled in the reader’s mind. This oral syntax technique allows us to pick up the specific details and themes that the author wishes us to note.

I admit, when I first read the story in silence, I found myself disconnected to the characters. Why? Because I was so fixated on (subconsciously) correcting the sentences and flow of words just so the story would grammatically make more sense. I was changing fragmented sentences into complete sentences that followed the western “approved” linguistics and syntax, and completely missed the whole point of the story. I grabbed my 6-year-old niece, and read to her from the beginning. I immediately felt the story change: sentences that began with “and” and “but” felt natural off the tip of my tongue, academic “errors” became less of the focus, and as I was wailing my hands in the air and altering my tone here and there with the words, my center of attention was on the meaning behind the words. Later that night when I had my mother read the story to me, I found that the story was specifically written to give a sense of warmth, intimacy, comfort even. It is written in a way that allows the listener to feel fully immersed and embraced into the story, like a participant, rather than a bystander.

Through this experience, I realized we have all been conditioned to believe that a certain framework of thinking is forever the sole measure of accuracy, excellence, and superiority. I appreciate what Robinson has done here: his usage of oral syntax can be seen as a way of rebelling and challenging the status quo of modern academia as well as colonial narratives. The structure he has created wholly deconstructs the typical narrative voice we are constantly exposed to in western academic writing, and instead, we learn to search deeper beyond what is seen to the naked eye.

Works Cited

Buvala, K. Sean. “The Three Essential Skills of the Storyteller.”, 1999. Web. 3 July 2016.

Coyotes. Desert USA. Web. 3 July 2016. Digital Image.

Frost, Shelley. “The Importance of Repetition When Reading.” Our Everyday Life, 2016. Web. 3 July 2016.

King, Thomas. “Godzilla vs. Post-Colonial.” Unhomely States: Theorizing English-Canadian Postcolonialism. Mississauga, ON: Broadview, 2004. 183- 190.

Robinson, Harry. “Coyote Makes a Deal with the King Of England.” Living by Stories: a Journey of Landscape and Memory. EdWendy Wickwire. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2005. 64-85.

Assignment 2:4 – The Dangers of Binary Thinking

  1. First stories tell us how the world was created. In The Truth about Stories, King tells us two creation stories; one about how Charm falls from the sky pregnant with twins and creates the world out of a bit of mud with the help of all the water animals, and another about God creating heaven and earth with his words, and then Adam and Eve and the Garden. King provides us with a neat analysis of how each story reflects a distinct worldview. “The Earth Diver” story reflects a world created through collaboration, the “Genesis” story reflects a world created through a single will and an imposed hierarchical order of things: God, man, animals, plants. The differences all seem to come down to co-operation or competition — a nice clean-cut satisfying dichotomy. However, a choice must be made: you can only believe ONE of the stories is the true story of creation – right? That’s the thing about creation stories; only one can be sacred and the others are just stories. Strangely, this analysis reflects the kind of binary thinking that Chamberlin, and so many others, including King himself, would caution us to stop and examine. So, why does King create dichotomies for us to examine these two creation stories? Why does he emphasize the believability of one story over the other — as he says, he purposefully tells us the “Genesis” story with an authoritative voice, and “The Earth Diver” story with a storyteller’s voice. Why does King give us this analysis that depends on pairing up oppositions into a tidy row of dichotomies? What is he trying to show us?


    creation stories


Binary thinking, a mindset that takes related concepts but opposite in meaning, is a form of mental opposition that plays a psychological role in how we perceive what is “true.” Binary thinking imposes each idea into their respective black and white forms of laws and facts. In other words, there is only good/truth (which is rewarded) and bad/falsehood (which is condemned), and nothing in between. This rigid way of thinking forces us to view reality in terms of duality, placing identical elements into opposition, and believing that there is only one correct answer allowed in the world.

King purposely aligned the two creation stories side by side and highlighted the dichotomies involved in order to show the dangers of choosing sides and eliminating all other forms of truth once one’s perceived truth is established. Binary thinking has inherent limits that obstruct one to even own the capacity to consider other essential elements, and in turn, blurs our vision of the world to be one that is limited, intolerant, and biased. King understands that the brain is wired by logic and desire of reasoning, and for humans to process a story that cannot be proven by science is virtually impossible without the use of an authoritative voice to tell the “Genesis” story. This prevents any doubts from rising and in return, contributes to the story’s credibility. On the other hand, “The Earth Diver” story is told in a storyteller’s voice to give it animation and spirit, yet runs the risk of skepticism because of its lack of convincibility. Here is when we make the grave mistake of disqualifying other possibilities in order to entertain just one. Whether or not it is human instinct to lean toward a universe governed by a series of hierarchies as opposed to cooperation, we lose sight of the value that the other holds. And that’s the problem with the elemental structure of Western society: we are fixated and swear by our dichotomies for every decision-making process. Like how the author says, “We are suspicious of complexities, distrustful of contradictions, fearful of enigmas” (King 25).

As difficult as it can seem, being consciously aware that binary thinking should progress in a more circular approach is necessary when broadening one’s scope of life. The challenge is to overcome the toxic “all or nothing,” “this or that,” “me or you” mentality, because reality is certainly richer and more complex than what our recognition of the world proposes.


Works Cited

Hilmar-Jezek, Kytka. “Creation Stories.” Waldorf Homeschoolers. 24 Feb. 2011. Web. 17 June 2016. Image.

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

Ngo, Robin. “Should We Take Creation Stories in Genesis Literally?” Bible History Daily, 31 Jan. 2016. Web. 17 June 2016.

Schlesinger, Hank. “The Dangers Of Binary Thinking In A Complex World.” Vending Times, 29 Mar. 2014. Web. 17 June 2016.

Assignment 2:3 – Where Do We All Find 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.


This week has given me the pleasure of reading so many of my classmates’ stories of finding home, overcoming hardship, and achieving a sense of belonging. It takes an enormous amount of courage to be upfront and strip bare in order to tell these stories to the world, and I thank you for sharing some of the most insightful thoughts I’ve ever come across. Here are three predominant themes I’ve noticed when it comes to the idea of “home”:

  1. Home is not defined by a geographical location. Initially, I perceived home as a feeling directly influenced by extrinsic attributes of a destination. Upon reading other classmates’ stories, however, I realized that home is actually a state of mind, like how Alanna puts it. To have a place we call home is simply a choice we choose to make, and to make the most of, even in undesirable situations. We push ourselves to learn and grow from the challenges we are born into, and in return, we strengthen our skills of adaptability and use it to our advantage. And through that, the most important thing we retain from understanding that home is all in the mind, is that we become resilient in times of adversity.
  2. Home is a collection of memories and feelings with the people we love most. I think it goes without saying that a home without the people we love and care for (and vice versa) is just another place no different or special than any other. Lorraine talked about filial piety and asked a heartfelt question: “when my family is gone then where is my home?” (Shen). This really struck a chord, because all my life I’ve only lived with my mother, and that’s the only life I’ve come to know. We not only support each other but also heavily depend on one another. My mother is the only person who gave me the memories of growing up, the sole provider of unconditional security and reassurance, the one and only soul most determined to give me a safe sense of home. There is no denying that family and home have an unbreakable bond, and to know that one day I’d have to live without my mother’s physical presence is a daunting thought to imagine.
  3. A sense of home starts from within. Home is a sacred place with stories unique to ourselves, and we live our own stories through time. Time tells us how we’ve evolved through our own set of experiences that give us memories, and ultimately how we’ve used these experiences to achieve our sense of belonging. In Janine’s story about self-discovery and her painful road to finding inclusion, she says “I feel at home when I feel belonging and acceptance; when I feel that my stories are heard and respected; when I feel a sense of inclusion” (Fleming). Our sense of home begins when we recognize our self-worth, when we remember that we are loved, when we exercise our freedom to be whoever we choose to be, and know that no one can ever take that power away from us.


Works Cited

Fleming, Janine. “A “Clueyness” About Exclusion (2.2).” 6 Jun 2016. Web. 15 Jun 2016.

Joy, Alanna. “Assignment 2.2.” 7 Jun 2016. Web. 15 Jun 2016.

Shen, Lorraine. “2.2 Home.” 6 Jun 2016. Web. 15 Jun 2016.

Tattrie Rushton, Heidi. Adapting for furry family members. 16 Jun 2015. Web. 15 Jun 2016.

Assignment 2:2 – My Little Kitsilano Home

Write a short story (600 – 1000 words) that describes your sense of home; write about the values and the stories that you use to connect yourself to, and to identify your sense of home.


I can’t say I ever gave the concept of “home” much of a thought until I recently moved to Taipei, Taiwan to live with my boyfriend for the entire four months of summer. The misery from aching to hold your loved one eventually took over our patience and sanity, so making the temporary move was the most logical step for the both of us. It’s been a full month away from my birthplace (Vancouver), and I admit, it isn’t until now do I realize the value of what I used to see as a painfully familiar and utterly boring home.

My home in Vancouver is a small townhouse of two bedrooms located in the heart of the quaint Kitsilano neighourhood. A one-minute walk to the local all-organic grocery store, a two-minute walk to the bank, a three-minute walk to the nearest bus stop and a ten-minute drive to Kitsilano Beach. Its location is a fifteen-minute bus ride to Pacific Centre, a convenient twenty-minute hop on the 99 b-line away from UBC, and zero minutes away from enjoying both the urban and the serene. Despite all these benefits however, I never learned to appreciate the feeling of being at home. I’ve always despised how depressingly bland my room looked, how quiet every night’s dinner seemed with my mother, how meaningless it felt to spend my weekend nights locked up in a place I’ve grown to avoid. Whenever I could, I would always find a reason to stay out as long as possible; whether that was studying in the library, sleeping over at my best friend’s dorm room or working longer shifts, I never wanted to trudge back home only to face the silence, boredom and loneliness that became inevitable at home. It’s been like this for the past eight years.

It has also been exactly a month since I landed in Taipei. Reunion with my boyfriend is sweet, his parents are the most kind and welcoming hosts, and their home is the most elegantly furnished place I have ever set foot into. There are no complaints. But when they say, “make our home your home,” I know I can’t, and wouldn’t be able to even if I tried. My existence in this space is temporary, my relationship to this space holds no memories of becoming the person I am today, and no matter what anyone says, it is ultimately still someone else’s home where I am not free to be whoever I want to be. I am cautious of my every word and action, and I restrain myself from feeling emotions that may potentially affect others in this house. Now don’t get me wrong, how I feel about living in my boyfriend’s house in no way affects or hinders how I wish to feel and act in front of my boyfriend. In fact, I feel “at home” with him by my side, but just not always necessarily in his home physically. I am incredibly grateful for the warm hospitality I have received thus far, but I can’t help but feel uncomfortable, even when I am alone. There is an intruder in their home, and that intruder is me.

Some may say I think too much, that I am too self-conscious of how other people perceive me, and to that I admit it’s true. This isn’t about putting up a façade, but I do want to leave a positive impression to his parents, and that requires upholding the integrity of social politeness. However the fundamental groundwork of “home,” in essence, is tossing away these pressures of social politeness, and instead, providing the freedom for one to feel and express whatever they wish to feel and express, and simply be whoever they wish to be, at any given time. Home is a place where we keep our happiest (and even ugliest) memories safe, because they represent moments when we are most comfortable and vulnerable, which ultimately means when we are most true to ourselves.

In retrospect, I never truly understood how “home” was supposed to feel until I left it. I was blinded by the familiarity and dullness, and had mistaken it for lifelessness. In reality, it is my mother’s unconditional love that raised me, my messy room that comforts me at night, and knowing that it will always be just my mother and I at our small wooden table during dinnertime that gives me security. Until I can make a home of my own one day, I would only be able to feel all of this in my little Kitsilano townhouse.


Works Cited

Gordon Nelson. Sustainable, Modern Living in Vancouver’s Urban Core. 2016. Gordon Nelson Inc. Web. 5 June 2016. Image.

“Kitsilano.” Tourism Vancouver, 2016. Web. 5 June 2016.

“Taipei is heritage laneways and buzzing nightlife.” Lonely Planet, 2016. Web. 5 June 2016.

Assignment 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 King 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 

Before the existence of humans and civilization, there were only dragons in the sky and serpents on land. The dragons were seen as majestic, untouchable, and noble animals – respected by all and feared by troublemakers. The serpents on the other hand, were seen as lowly and lazy creatures that disgusted the land and ocean spirits. For most of the time, both species lived in peaceful harmony.

One day, the serpents were surprised with the birth of a baby girl. Her golden brown locks, soft blue eyes, and smooth, fair skin looked vastly different from what the creatures were used to expecting. Confused and flustered, the mother serpent hailed one of the dragons to come see for himself. Upon arrival, the dragon gasped in shock.

“What is it, Mr. Dragon? Please tell us what this little creature is doing on Earth?” eagerly asked the mother serpent.

“This baby is dangerous to your family and to your community! I must remove it from Earth at once!” The dragon inched forward to take the baby girl from the mother serpent.

“Wait! What harm could this tiny creature possibly do to us? Why do you get to take it away?” The mother serpent was desperate for answers.

“There is no time for your questions. You are under obligation to obey my order. Now, release!”

Before the mother serpent could respond, the dragon swooped in, lifted the baby girl out from the mother’s protective embrace, and flew up toward the skies.

News spread, and before the dragons could stop or deny any of it, the serpents finally understood why the baby girl was taken in a haste … She was the lost daughter of The Highest Power, an unseen force of the universe, and the ultimate creator of life. A sky-wide search for the missing baby had already ensued, but nobody had thought she would have reincarnated to Earth. The reward? Everlasting Joy and Happiness.

Infuriated and hurt from being lied to, the mother serpent, along with the rest of the serpent community, vowed to take revenge. They grew wings of fire and flew up to the skies to complete this mission. Dragon wings were burnt and torn and the dragon themselves fell to their death. It was a bloody revenge, but a sweet one to the serpents, and that is how Evil was introduced into their world.

“[And], 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).



Knowing that I needed to make my story sound personable and ‘story-like’ in both oral and written formats, I made a conscious effort to construct my sentences the way that I imagined children’s literature would sound like. Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” I think it’s true that life is incredibly complicated and that we are often confronted with situations that force us to make hard decisions. Yet, I also think we like to make our complicated lives even more difficult, and amidst the chaos of trying to figure life out, we forget that there is so much more to life than our problems.

I think storytelling pushes people to extract the essence of complex matters and allow us to see the bigger picture. Through this story, I wanted to show that notions like Joy and Happiness can coexist with Evil (dragon finds baby and achieves both), and that is very much the reality we live in today. There is obviously room for improvement but I also don’t think I’ll ever be content with a story that doesn’t have room to evolve. This is where the audience comes in and makes that happen over time.


Works Cited 

InsaneIVI. Dragons in the Sky. 2011. Deviant Art. Web. 29 May 2016.

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

Pawula, Sandra. “36 Inspiring Quotations from Albert Einstein.” Always Well Within, 3 Nov. 2011. Web. 29 May 2016.

Thompson, Tosin. The pursuit of happiness: what is happiness, and how can we make ourselves happier?” NewStatesman, 8 Jul. 2015. Web. 28 May 2016.

1:3 Ceremonies of Belief & Respect

  1. 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?



If This Is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories by J. Edward Chamberlin provides an excellent introduction into the historical customs of the Canadian Indigenous people, injustices and discriminatory treatment made against them, and finally the duality and parallels when seen as a bigger picture. To say that reading Chamberlin’s book was an eye-opening experience is an understatement – Instead, it forces readers to dig deeper and scrutinize the stories we have been taught to believe all this time without much thought. In his final chapter “Ceremonies,” the author emphasizes on three significant points:

  1. It is the act of believing, rather than the particular belief itself that unites people across all cultures.

Chamberlin makes it clear that without the intention of respect in the first place, misunderstanding and hostility become inevitable. It is only when we regard the Indigenous people with our sincere wish to understand and accept their stories as valid do we begin to see the common ground that ultimately unites us all. Instead of always fixating our focus on the specific tales and questioning their factual validity, we are encouraged to engage in their stories with an open mindset of simply believing. The reason for this, is that all too often we fall in the traps of talking without communicating, seeing without understanding, and touching without feeling. Chamberlin explains that “we try to match the unmatchable, such as what J.B.S. Haldane called statements of fact that are untrue in detail but contain truth at their core with those that are right in detail but only reveal the form and not the real nature of things” (227). Any story that serves to provide information of experience encompasses both the nature of reality and imaginative agency, and the differences between reality and imagination become transformed in the ceremony of belief. This leads me to my second point.

  1. Both oral and written traditions are equal in intent and sophistication when preserving cultures.

The value in the practice of orality must not be reduced. Stories experienced, shared, and passed down the generations hold the history and evidence of the First Nation people’s sacred relationship to their land. For example, the grizzly bear story told by the Gitksan people of northwestern B.C., then later confirmed an earthquake seven thousand years ago by geologists, is not the main point (Chamberlin 219-221). The fundamental idea of comprehending this story is not whether or not the tale is proven true with evidence, but rather the need to respect every story in all form regardless of it being supported or not. Orality is not regressive and western stories are not progressive due to their written form; both methods are simply how we share our joys and existence with one another.

  1. Borders are the manifestation of space between imagination and reality.

One thing that most of us fail to realize is that borders are not always ominous. Yes, it is a way of claiming ownership to something, but they are never specifically implemented to offend others. Same with stories: they connect some people together and keep others apart, and that fact should never affect the way we see or treat an unfamiliar culture. Chamberlin makes a great point, “… We attack the very strangeness and contradiction we should cherish. Not getting to the border is to mistake the imaged events on stage for real life” (222). Once we recognize these borders, see where we stand on the spectrum and overcome these borders, we ultimately transcend notions of Them and Us.


Works Cited

Chamberlin, J. Edward. If This Is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories?: Finding Common Ground. Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2004. Print.

“Hazelton: ‘Ksan village of the Gitksan people.” Digital image. N.p. Web. 18 May 2016.

MacNeil, Courtney. “Orality.” The Chicago School of Media Theory, 2007. Web. 18 May 2016.

Powell, J.V., Jensen, Vickie D., and Pedersen, Anne-Marie. “Gitxsan.” Histórica Canada, 1 Nov. 2010. Web. 19 May 2016.

ENGL 470A: Canadian Studies in Literature / Assignment 1:1

no more stolen sisters pic

Hello there, and welcome to my English 470A blog. This will be a safe, creative, and open space to record my exploration of relationships between Canadian literature and storytelling with a focus on contexts at the intersection of Indigenous and European history. I welcome any comments, questions, and suggestions, and am open to hearing your thoughts on the topics I will be writing on for the duration of this course.

My name is Sandra Wu, a rising senior majoring in English Literature and minoring in Creative Writing. I was born and raised in Vancouver with full Taiwanese heritage. My mother, a Mandarin teacher of 30+ years, made it a lifetime goal to never have me lose my roots with the language or culture she was born into, and in retrospect, I am grateful to have suffered through more than a decade of grumpy Saturday mornings in Chinese school. Between learning the English alphabet with ease and rummaging through my brain to memorize the Chinese phonetics, four-year-old Sandra could not understand the importance or need to preserve one’s cultural identity until much later on.

I am eager to examine Canadian literature through the voices of indigenous people because it paves the path to truly understanding their sense of/lack of belonging in the modern Canadian landscape. ENGL 470A provides an opportunity to analyze and scrutinize the tactics used by the colonizers during the process of nation-building, and I believe it is crucial to understand the rooted tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples before we can comment on how the antagonist party needs to reform its ways.

Again, I am super excited to be embarking on this journey of learning more about my culturally rich and beautifully diverse country. I look forward to sharing and changing perspectives with everyone!


Until next time,

Sandra Wu


Works Cited

“Canada’s rejection of inquiry into violence against Aboriginal women is a national disgrace.” 23 September 2013. Web. 14 May 2016. Image.

eChineseLearning. “Chinese Pinyin (Part 1).” YouTube. YouTube, 22 February 2011. Web. 14 May 2016.

“Taiwan: Culture and Heritage.” Taiwan – The Heart of Asia. 27 July 2015. Web. 14 May 2016.

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