Hyperlinking Research for Allusions in Green Grass Running Water- 3.7

Prompt:  “Each student should select a section of Green Grass Running Water approximately 10 pages. The task at hand is to first discover as many allusions as you can to historical references (people and events), literary references (characters and authors), mythical references (symbols and metaphors). While I am suggesting a method to help organize your task — you should quickly discover that there is no method for making neat categories out of King’s numerous (and humorous) allusions and references. Instead of categories, what you will discover are connections, and inter-connections and cycles.”


Green Grass Running Water:  Selected Pages 136-148

Thomas King’s Green Grass Running Water, hosts a myriad of historical and popular allusions. Certainly, it is more noticeable in the chapters regarding the formation of the world, as characters of indigenous and Judaeo-Christian mythology intermingle to create a new origin story, however King subtly makes many references in his other chapters as well, creating a deliberate encyclopedic of tome of historical and pop culture references.  Jane Flick’s Green Grass Running Water notes on illusions seems to provide an almost inexhaustible list of references.  I have chosen pages 136-148 spanning two chapters, one about Coyote and another about Eli.


The first allusion King makes is of course Eli. “From Where Eli sat on the porch…” (King, Green Grass Running Water, 136) Eli is a reference to the Jewish prophet Eli in the Book of Samuel.   Eli was a priest of Shiloh, military leader, and a judge before the monarchy in Israel began. It is important to know that Eli was born out of a prayer to god from his mother Hannah, who had trouble conceiving. A large plot point in GGRR is Alberta’s desire for children.  Eli died by breaking his neck after hearing news of his sons’s death by hands of the philistines after the battle of Aphek.  Eli is credited with the establishment of the Isreali monarchy. It is also interesting to note in Samaritan tradition, Eli is cast as a villain,  and the reason why the Jewish people and Samaritans split. Eli founded left Mount Garizim and founded the temple of Shiloh which housed the Ark of Covenant. He was also the adopted father of Samuel.  (New World Encylopedia, Eli)


As Flick notes, Sifton was an “Aggressive promoter of settlement
in the West through the Prairie West movement, and a champion of the
settlers who displaced the Native population” This is of course referencing Sir, Clifford Sifton. Sifton was a lawyer, politician and businessman who lived from 1861 and died in 1925. His notable contributions to Canadian politics include: Member of Parliament in Manitoba from 1878 and 1881, He was an MLA for Brandon North in Manitoba in 1888. (Sir Clifford Sifton, The Canadian encyclopedia) His government helped to created the “Manitoba Public Schools Act” which revoked funding to catholic schools and made french no longer an official language of Manitoba. This cause uprisings of the French community. Sifton also is noted for advancements in immigration policy. (Manitoba Public Schools Act, Canadian Encyclopedia)

His treatment of Indigenous people was lacking to put it as an understatement. “He defunded the department of Indian affairs and indigenous education” (Sir Clifford Sifton, Canadian Encyclopedia) and approved Treaty No.8  which took a significant amount of land away from Indigenous people, to help promote the Klondike Gold rush. (Treaty No. 8 The Canadian Encyclopedia)

“Cracks in the dam” and “storms coming” (King, GGRR 136,137) Noah, Noah’s wife

A shot in the dark, but could relate back to the Biblical flood.

The Great flood was a biblical myth (although there is some evidence that a real great flood happened in Babylonia) that ended the world. This story is found in The book of Genesis.   A great storm rages for 40 days and 40 nights destroying most of mankind for living in Sin. Noah has a vision of god and he and his family make a pact with God that The world will never be destroyed again. Noah builds a great arc and puts two of each animal onto the arc to save them from the world’s descruction. Prominent characters are Noah, his children and his wife. (The Great Flood, Livus)

This story is told later in GGRR in the next chapter with Changing woman, Coyote, and the animals in the Canoe. I believe King uses this metaphor deliberately in order to keep pace with his creation narrative.

Sun Dance

In Green Grass Running Water, King describes Eli’s annual tradition with his mother and family to see the Sun Dance. The Sun Dance, according to “The Canadian Encyclopedia is “The Sun Dance is an annual Plains Aboriginal cultural ceremony performed in honour of the sun, during which participants prove bravery by overcoming pain.” (Sun Dance Canadian Encyclopedia) it is interesting to note that the Sun Dance was forbidden by the Indian Act in 1888. ((Sun Dance Canadian Encyclopedia).

Sun Dance also brings to mind  the “The Sun Dance Kid” who was a real outlaw in the United States, and part of the Hole in the Wall Gang., Whose leader leader was Butch Cassidy,  most notably played by actor Paul Newman in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” . Robert Redford plays the handsome Sundance kid. If you haven’t seen the movie, you must. It is simply incredible.


Camelot was the house of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round table. It is debated whether Camelot was a real location and whether Arthur and was a real king. There are several possible real world sites linked with Camelot, Caerleon,  Camelford in Cornwall,  and Cadbury Castle. 


I am rather proud of this one. Norma was not mentioned by Flick in her reading. Norma relates back to the Opera, Norma.   by Vincenzo Bellini. It is the story of an affair between a roman consul and a druid high priestess, in Gaul during Roman occupation. The connection here is between Norma, A Druid priestess, and Merlin,  Although Merlin is not in the Opera, He is often linked as being a Druid priest. It is not coincidence that King establishes Norma with Camelot in Green Grass Running Water. Norma is a reference to a Druid Priestess, linking her to Merlin, who is Arthur’s adviser in Camelot.


Orville is a reference to one of the two wright brothers who flew the first airplane. He was born in 1871 and died in 1948. He and his brother Wilbur wright, made the first successful flight in 1903 (Orville Wright, Biography, Biography.com)

Bartleby the Scrivener

As King directly references and explains in Green Grass Running water ” ‘Bartleby the Scrivener’ One of Herman Melville’s Short stories.” Is of course the lead character in Herman Melville’s short story which you can read here. The story is of a lawyer who hires a man named Bartleby to help out about the law offices. Bartleby eventually begins to sleep in the offices at night and refuses to do mundane work like proofreading and copying. The lawyer gets frustrated with him and asks him to leave, or move in with him. Bartleby declines. Eventually the lawyer gets frustrated and moves his entire office. New residences complain a strange man is wandering the hallways, it is Bartleby. Bartleby is arrested, and after he is released, he dies of malnutrition. This story is a commentary on poor working conditions and the employers attempt to not take responsibility for his workers. King is making a direct reference to this story, casting the government of Canada as the Lawyer and indigenous people as Bartleby.

Herman Melville.

Herman Melville is a famous writer, who died broke and unread until many years after his death. He is famous for writing the above story Bartleby the Scrivener and his masterpiece Moby Dick.


Coyote is a dominant figure in many indigenous tribes in North America, both in Canada and the United States. He is known as a trickster with bad luck. He can transform his shape, and create things simply by dreaming.  He is noted for his intelligence and cunning. According to Native Languages.org “he is a sort of antihero who demonstrates the dangers of negative behaviors like greed, recklessness, and arrogance; in still others, he is a comic trickster character, whose lack of wisdom gets him into trouble while his cleverness gets him back out. In some Native coyote stories, he is even some sort of combination of all three at once.” (Coyote, Native Lanaguages, North American Coyote Mythology)


Works Cited (Get Ready)

“Noah | Biblical Figure”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2019, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Noah.

“Native American Indian Coyote Legends, Meaning And Symbolism From The Myths Of Many Tribes”. Native-Languages.Org, 2019, http://www.native-languages.org/legends-coyote.htm.

Flick, Jane. “Reading Notes for Thomas King’s Green Grass, Running Water.” Canadian Literature, vol. 161/162, 1999, pp. 140-172.

Editors, Biography.com. “Herman Melville Biography”. The Biography.Com Website, 2019, https://www.biography.com/people/herman-melville-9405239.

Melville, Herman. “Melville, Herman. 1853. Bartleby, The Scrivener”. Bartleby.Com, 2019, https://www.bartleby.com/129/.

Editors, Biography.com. “Orville Wright”. Biography, 2019, https://www.biography.com/people/orville-wright-20672999.

Séguin, Xavier. “Merlin The Magician – Eden Saga – English”. Eden Saga – English, 2019, https://eden-saga.com/en/celtic-mythology-gandalf-time-travel-sorcerer-druid-truie-qui-file-wizard-merlin.html.

“Norma (Opera)”. En.Wikipedia.Org, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norma_(opera).

“Cadbury Castle, Somerset”. En.Wikipedia.Org, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadbury_Castle,_Somerset.

“Camelford”. En.Wikipedia.Org, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camelford.

Editors, Encyclopedia Britannica. “Caerleon | History, Castle, & Roman Fortress & Baths”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2019, https://www.britannica.com/place/Caerleon.

Editors, Encyclopedia Britannica. “Camelot | Arthurian Legend”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2019, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Camelot-Arthurian-legend.

Goldman, William. “Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid (1969) – Imdb”. Imdb, 2019, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064115/.

Editors, Biography.com. “Butch Cassidy Biography”. The Biography.Com Website, 2019, https://www.biography.com/people/butch-cassidy-9240908.

“Hole In The Wall Gang – The Wild West”. Thewildwest.Org, 2019, http://www.thewildwest.org/cowboys/wildwestoutlawsandlawmen/183-holeinwallgang.

Editors, The biography.com. “Sundance Kid Biography”. A&E Television Networks Website, 2019, https://www.biography.com/people/sundance-kid-9499214.

Editors, Encylopedia Britannica. “Noah | Biblical Figure”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2019, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Noah.

“The Book Of Genesis”. Vatican.Va, 2019, http://www.vatican.va/archive/bible/genesis/documents/bible_genesis_en.html.

“The Great Flood – Livius”. Livius.Org, 2019, https://www.livius.org/articles/misc/great-flood/.

Tesar, Alex. “Treaty 8 | The Canadian Encyclopedia”. Thecanadianencyclopedia.Ca, 2019, https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/treaty-8.

“Manitoba Laws”. Web2.Gov.Mb.Ca, 2019, https://web2.gov.mb.ca/laws/statutes/ccsm/p250e.php.

Hall, David J. “Sir Clifford Sifton | The Canadian Encyclopedia”. Thecanadianencyclopedia.Ca, 2019, https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/sir-clifford-sifton.

Encyclopedia, New World. “Eli – New World Encyclopedia”. Newworldencyclopedia.Org, 2019, http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Eli.

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3.5 Coyote’s Role in Green Grass Running Water.


“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.”


Green Grass, Running Water, by Thomas King is formatted in two different ways. Firstly, it incorporates two distinct overarching styles of literary presentation. 1. Story telling through oral tradition and 2. Western narrative fiction writing format. Within this format, King further complicates his writing style by creating four separate narrative arcs, while presenting each of them in an episodic manner.

Coyote’s arch describes how the world came to be. Seems to mimic an oral tradition style of presentation. He is aided in this “quest” by an unnamed narrator and GOD. Why is it necessary to include Coyote’s tale of the creation of the world when the format seems so disjointed and difficult to follow? How does Coyote’s creation adventure aid our understanding of the three other narrative arcs in the story? Coyote’s story is a way for King to include his own culture’s traditional story telling methods into a novel that will be read by many. It is a homage to his own cultural mythos and allows for cultural blending of literary styles. This homage also represents the First Nation’s Struggle with forced assimilation. The readership of the novel must be taken into account, and the blending of literary styles allows for a larger potential audience, while creating the opportunity for education.

The inclusion of the creation of the world was not done on a whim. It has been carefully included to act as a mouthpiece for King to teach the reader several things.

We know that in many First Nation’s stories, that Coyote is a super natural being, unbound by time and who has extreme power. His presence across many different stories remains the same. He is powerful playful trickster, and he has the power to transform himself, physically, into whatever he chooses. We also know that many of the Coyote’s stories take the form of a fable. We are usually to take some moral lesson from the story. Knowing this, the inclusion of Coyote in Green Grass Running Water, subtly alerts the reader that the story of Coyote and the creation of the world, supplements the moral lessons expounded by the other four parts of the narrative.

Coyote represents transformation itself, which is a major theme in many First Nation’s stories and values and this theme is a major theme shared within the other three narrative arcs. Alberta is on a transformation journey into motherhood, Lionel is on a journey of professional and cultural transformation, and Babo’s stories keeps morphing in order to protect the four escaped First Nation’s Elders.

Coyote has the power to create things simply by dreaming. This act of creation transforms nothing into a water world, which in turn creates the abrahamic GOD, who in turn (with the help of coyote) creates the world as we know it. The wonderful thing is one mistake creates all of life. There was no “great plan” for existence. It simply is, and Coyote spends his arc, with GOD, fixing problems and enjoying himself. He never appears to be upset by how events turn out. He simply rolls with the punches. This narrative arc helps to establish the notion of free will. Mistakes happen and one must live with the consequences. This is mirrored in Lionel’s arc (although to a more unhappy degree). Lionel almost had heart surgery due to a mistake, which haunts him the rest of his life. He was again mistaken for a member of the AIM which gave him a criminal record and cost him signifiant time and money, simply due to a mistake, but never was it assumed that his destiny was determined by any supernatural force. He simply rolls with the punches and continues to live his life.

By including the Abrahamic GOD in Coyote’s arc King shows three things.

Firstly, that First Nation’s mythos stories are flexible can adapt to incorporate new experiences, that may not have been previously explored. This is an extremely excellent thing! It allows for learning and a redefinition of character, while maintaining historical values.

Secondly it shows that Coyote was first in the timeline of events.  King is showing a great deal of respect for First Nation’s spiritual beliefs and is unwilling to abandon his beliefs for a Christian belief system, but is willing to amend his belief system to include new information. This also is representative of First Nation’s historical attitudes toward European Canadians. They are unwilling to sacrifice themselves to assimilate but still wish for amicable peace and harmony.

Thirdly, Coyote never subjugates GOD. He is proud, sure, but ultimately works with GOD as equal partners. This is a metaphor for King’s desire for amicable peace between European Canadians and First Nation’s People in Canada.

The inclusion of Coyote’s arc is brilliantly thought out, profound in its many lessons for both political peace and personal peace. I am blown away that King was able to craft such an excellent piece of literature, and am frustrated that his nomination for the Governor General’s award was not realized. He was nominated but did not win. This book is one of the first truly Canadian books I’ve read. I’m astounded that more people do not know this book, and hope it becomes required reading in high-schools as a part of a Classic, Canadian Canon. If my goal of becoming a high-school English teacher is realized, it will be on my curriculum.

I adored this book and would be interested one day to create a full literary analysis.

Works cited

King, Thomas. Green Grass, Running Water. Harperperennial Canada, 2007.


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Racism, Xenophobia, and discriminatory legislation in Canada’s Immigration Act of 1910.


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.


According to the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21’s website, The Immigration Act of 1910, was implemented to give the Canadian government “enhanced discretionary powers… [to] regulate the flow of immigrants into Canada, reinforcing and expanding the exclusionary provisions outlined in the Immigration Act of 1906.” (Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Immigration Act of 1910).  It seems that even federal branches of historical record keeping view this piece of legislation to be racist and xenophobic.

In the early 1900s, Canada began to see an extreme exodus of migrants. Canada, still relatively young, felt it necessary to curtail the amount of work allotted for itself by excluding people who were deemed “undesirable” (Immigration Act of 1910, 208)  or bound to be a burden on the state. These people included an entire “prohibited class”. (Immigration Act of 1910, 208)



The “Prohibited Class” included:

“a) idiots, imbeciles, feeble minded persons, epileptics, insane persons                                       or people who have been insane within the last five years.”

“b) Persons afflicted with any loathsome disease, or any disease that may be contagious or infectious, or which may become dangerous to public health.”

“c) Immigrants who are dumb, blind or physically defective, unless in the opinion of a board of inquiry officer…they have money, or a profession, occupation, trade, employment or any other legitimate mode of earning a living that they are not liable to become a public charge…”

“d) Persons who have been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude”

e) Prostitutes, women and girls coming to Canada for any immoral purpose, Pimps or persons living off the avail of prostitution

“f) Persons who procure or attempt to bring into Canada, prostitutes or women or girls  for the purpose of prostitution, or other immoral purposes.

“g) Professional beggars or vagrants or any other person likely to become a public charge”

h) immigrants who have been given or loaned by any charitable organization enabling them to qualify for landing under this act…” (Immigration Act of 1910) It is noted in the explanation of this particular note that; “This condition was prompted by an influx of impoverished British immigrants in 1907, many of whom had received assistance from charitable institutions to facilitate their immigration” (Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Immigration Act of 1910)

i) persons to do not fulfill or comply with any regulations which for the time being are in force and applicable to such persons under sections 37 and 38 of this Act.”


As we can see from this list, Canada was seeking only the “best” applicants for immigration and anyone who could possibly fall under the charge of the state was considered “undesirable.”  This extreme rejection of anyone who could not contribute well, or at all or had the likely potential of being any burden whatsoever on the Canadian government was rejected.  It seems that government immigration officials had full authority to arbitrarily decide whether a person was “desirable”

There were also fee requirements imposed on would be immigrants. According to the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, “Orders-in-council passed later in the year further enhanced the restrictive immigration policies. All immigrants of Asiatic origin were required to have $200 in their possession before being permitted entry, while all other immigrants, male and female, were required to have a minimum of $25 upon their arrival in Canada.”  (Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Immigration Act of 1910). This specific legislation is extremely racist and counterproductive. This piece of racist legislation was intended to generate federal income and act as a deterrent from “All immigrants of Asiatic origin.”  (Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Immigration Act of 1910). It is also counterproductive, disallowing potential contributing workers and community members citizenship based on ethnicity, with different ideas, comes new innovation.

The act gave government officials absolute power, without transparency, to accept or reject any applicant as they saw fit. One such rule is as stands: ” Every passenger or person as to whose right to land, the examining officer has any doubt, shall be detained for further examination by the officer in charge, or by the board of inquiry and such examination shall be forthwith conducted separate and apart from the public, and conclusion thereof such passenger or other person, shall be either immediately landed or rejected and kept in custody pending deportation.” The veil of non public screenings no doubt allowed for an extreme number of unjust deportations.

The Immigration act of 1910 also paved the way for a permanent residency which we still employ today. On a personal note, I have several immigrant friends who say the process for immigrating to Canada isn’t terrible (in comparison to other countries) although is quite slow, still expensive and does not include many government assisted employment help. Transferable professions remain an insurmountable obstacle to many.  I found a wonderful report on employment and resettlement in Canadian Immigration. You can find it here. 

The part that interests me the most is of course the systemic barriers to re-employment in Canada. It seems we are past our racist past. In the article mentioned above, It states:

” The obstacles to seeking work typically involve a
combination of credentialing, Canadian work experience, devalued foreign work experience, and language issues [25,36,39]. Hiebert’s [22] focus group
study revealed that non-recognition of credentials was
a common experience, along with visible minority migrants’ belief that education and training from the United States and European countries were deemed more
valuable than that of other source countries” (Melinda Suto, Compromised careers: The occupational transition of immigration and resettlement, 419)

The article goes on to say that a major reason for underemployment in immigrants is: “The reasons for foreign work experience being “heavily discounted by Canadian employers” … range from discrimination and racism based on country of origin, to ignorance
about the value migrants’ experience could offer an organization” (Suto, 419)

This is extremely disappointing to me. I was hoping we would learn and offer more acceptable transition for educated immigrants and less blatantly racist prejudices.  There are of course many other reasons why it may be difficult for immigrants to find suitable employment in Canada, but from the state of this article, it looks like our government has such an inefficient method of allowing for help with employment that it should be heavily looked into.

This assignment has reminded of me of article I had read in the Globe and Mail: Report on Business last year entitled “For Canada, Immigration is a key to prosperity”

In this article it states: “Why is this so important? Because without this immigration flow, Canada’s population aged between 20 and 44 years old would be declining. That cohort, which constitutes most of the labour force, is the one that creates new households, buys new houses, has children and pays the greater part of taxation revenue. Without immigration, Canada’s natural population growth would not be enough to sustain economic growth and welfare. Quebec, given its demographic structure, especially needs immigration to increase its labour force in the short term so as to sustain the costs of its social programs.” (Globe and Mail, For Canada, Immigration is a key to prosperity) This article has very little actual information. It seems to be a propaganda piece to make the Canadian Government “look good” while refusing to educate the common layman on its processes at all.

The Immigration act of 1910, unfortunately does not show Canadian’s fairness or aptitude for multiculturalism. It shows a racist, xenophobic and discriminatory attitude toward immigrants in the early 1900s.  It falls absolutely in line with Coleman’s notion of “White Civility”. The blatant disregard for public transparency and the self harming repercussions of such a piece of legislation is embarrassing and appalling to read and it appears Canada hasn’t improved much.

Works Cited

“Immigration Act, 1910 | Pier 21”. Pier21.Ca, 2019, https://pier21.ca/research/immigration-history/immigration-act-1910.

 Suto, Melinda. “Compromised Careers: The Occupational Transition Of Immigration And Resettlement”. Video.Med.Ubc.Ca, 2019, http://video.med.ubc.ca/videos/osot/faculty/ms/Compromised_Careers.pdf. Accessed 1 Mar 2019.

Gignac, Clement. “For Canada, Immigration Is A Key To Prosperity”. The Globe And Mail, 2018, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/economy-lab/for-canada-immigration-is-a-key-to-prosperity/article14711281/.


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Literacy, Transformation and Naitaka (Ogopogo)

Assignment 2.6

Prompt: Following Carlson’s discussions on literacy as “part of a broader genre of transformation” (61), try to explain what he means when he says that transformation is an “act of literacy.” This can be confusing at first, but if you follow his discussion beginning with “how Salish people understand the process or act of transformation in relation to literacy itself” and pay attention to how he uses etymology to shape his insights, you should be able to extract an explanation for conceptualizing transformations as writing and as readable.


Words and understanding go hand in hand. The purpose of language is to express feeling, concepts, and information. According to the Merriam Webster online dictionary, literacy means two things. 1. “The ability to read and write.” and 2. “Knowledge that relates to a specified subject. I find the second definition eye opening.

If we choose to use “literacy” in its second definition, we allow ourselves the freedom to learn in whatever way we see fit. This may include learning by oral tradition,  haptic tradition or by visual tradition. Literacy is defined as a “knowledge that relates to a specified subject”, and written literacy is only one part of learning as a whole.

The word “Learn” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary means “to gain knowledge or understanding of or skill in by study, instruction, or experience”. This is interesting to note, as we see the semantic similarities between the two words. One is a verb and the other is a noun but the meaning is the same. One may learn (the process of acquiring knowledge) , and once that knowledge has been ingrained, one has become literate (or has access to “knowledge that relates to a specified subject.)

We understand that the purpose of reading and writing is the dissemination of information. Learning is its ultimate purpose. We can use our written language skills to record valuable information, teach others without the need for precise memory, tell stories, write instructions, draw maps, the list goes on. Reading and writing are valuable skills that help us to advance our collective knowledge.

It makes sense that European people would see this knowledge as a gift, and we can understand the reason behind why our misguided, forceful attempts to help “better” our First Nation’s neighbours was pursued in the first place. We also can begin to understand why one possible reason European conquerors felt intellectually superior to First Nation’s people. Europeans wielded an incredible skill that allowed them to socially, technologically and politically dominate First Nation’s people, and pass that knowledge on to subsequent generations on mass.

It also makes sense that First Nation’s people may see written literacy as a weapon, as its brutal and psychopathic methods of instruction have caused many First Nation’s people, attending the Residential Schools to be kidnapped, beaten, embarrassed, socially isolated, maimed and even killed. The effects of written literacy have given way to First Nation’s political subjugation.

It is interesting that Carlson says that  “transformation is an act of literacy”, but what does transformation mean?  The Merriam Webster Dictionary has three different definitions.
1. “to change in composition or structure”
2. to change the outward form or appearance of”      and
3. “to change in character or condition”

We see in countless stories of the Salish people, that spirits like Coyote and Raven who can “transform” (using the 2nd definition) into different physical states. Often physical transformation is a punishment, is was the case of the three elders who refused to teach their people written literacy, or in the case of a murderer who eventually became the The lake demon Naitaka (or Ogopogo) in Okanagan lake.


The purpose of the punishment (in the story of the Naitaka, which I heard during the potlatch ceremony, when I was 10) was to transform the murderer of a man named “Old Kan-He-Kan”,  physically into a demon who was then forced to continue killing at the scene of his crime. This punishment was to reflect the evil in his heart. His physical self was to match his emotional self.  The story is that then name Okanagan was named for Old Kan He Kan. Although, it is my understanding that was a Caucasian misunderstanding and appropriated meaning.

My point in telling this story is to highlight Carlson’s meaning. The physical transformation of Naitaka from the gods, was meant to force Naitaka into understanding that his deed was foul by forcing him to relive his worse moments forever.

So how does this relate to literacy? If we view transformation as 3rd meaning, “to change in character or condition” we begin to understand how literacy and learning works. When we have no knowledge or understanding, we live in state of ignorance. Our view of the world is coloured by that ignorance and so to are the choices we make. As we learn, our character is changed and so our literacy marks our transformation from ignorant to learned.

Now how does this relate to written literacy?  Written literacy is simply a vehicle for learning. It is a powerful vehicle that allows the dissemination of information to be used quickly and at a large scale. With the opportunity to devour more information quickly, the transformation process from ignorant to understanding is sped up.

But if we view the story of Coyote and the King and the story of the Three Chiefs the same way we view the story of Naitaka, we begin to understand a bit of how First Nation’s feel toward written literacy.

In the story of the three chiefs, Peters states that The great spirit had gifted the ability for written language to three chiefs. These chiefs were charged with bringing this knowledge to their people. They failed and the great spirit transformed them to stone. Why stone? Stone represents stagnation. It is an unchanging element. It can not grow. This physical transformation is fit as it mimics the loss of written language to the First Nation’s People. The Three Chiefs cannot grow as they are stone, and neither can their people as their tool (written language) has been lost.  (Carlson 43)

In the story of Coyote and the king. The same sentiment of transformation in regards to written literacy is mirrored.  We see that the Indian Law written by the Queen is kept hidden, much like literacy its self, in order to keep First Nation’s people subjugated. The sentiment is that if all First Nation’s people can read, they will be able to read the black and white and then challenge European conquest through understanding and literacy.  (Robinson 85)

If this story is equal parts historical and prophetic, I believe it is beginning to come to fruition now. In 2018, The University of Victoria has launched the world’s First Indigenous Law Degree. This is the collaborative efforts between First Nation’s and Parliament. Although the battlefield was chosen by the state, there is opportunity for fair play.


Works Cited

Robinson, Harry, and Wendy Wickwire. Living By Stories. Talonbooks, 2013.

“Definition Of LEARN”. Merriam-Webster.Com, 2019, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/learn.

“Definition Of TRANSFORM”. Merriam-Webster.Com, 2019, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/transform.

“Literacy – Definition For English-Language Learners From Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary”. Learnersdictionary.Com, 2019, http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/literacy.Carlson, Keith Thor. “Orality and

Literacy: The ‘Black and White’ of Salish History.” Orality & Literacy: Reflectins Across Disciplines. Ed. Carlson, Kristina Fagna, & Natalia Khamemko-Frieson. Toronto: Uof Toronto P, 2011. 43-72.

“World’s First Indigenous Law Degree – University Of Victoria”. Uvic.Ca, 2019, https://www.uvic.ca/news/topics/2018+jid-indigenous-law+media-release.

Vernon, Tourism. “The Legend Of The Ogopogo”. Vernon BC Express, 2019, https://tourismvernon.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/the-legend-of-the-ogopogo/.

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Population, Rhetoric, The Spanish, The Haida and Darmok and Jalad.


“We began this unit by discussing assumptions and differences that we carry into our class. In “First Contact as Spiritual Performance,” Lutz makes an assumption about his readers (Lutz, “First Contact” 32). He asks us to begin with the assumption that comprehending the performances of the Indigenous participants is “one of the most obvious difficulties.” He explains that this is so because “one must of necessity enter a world that is distant in time and alien in culture, attempting to perceive indigenous performance through their eyes as well as those of the Europeans.” Here, Lutz is assuming either that his readers belong to the European tradition, or he is assuming that it is more difficult for a European to understand Indigenous performances – than the other way around. What do you make of this reading? Am I being fair when I point to this assumption? If so, is Lutz being fair when he makes this assumption?”


It is an interesting topic, why we make assumptions the way we do.  In our particular case, Lutz is writing for a specific audience in First Contact as a Spiritual Performance, Encounters on the North American West Coast. His assumption that the reader will be more familiar with European tradition than First Nation tradition, is a rhetorical choice. It is one he employs to make it easier for the reader to understand how Europeans made first contact and how challenging it may have been. By understanding the challenges of first contact through the lens of a familiar tradition, he asks us then to “attempt to perceive indigenous performance through their eyes, as well as those of the Europeans” (Lutz, 32.)

By stating that understanding First Nation’s performance is “one of the most obvious difficulties” (First contact as a Spiritual Performance 32), his implication comes in two parts. Firstly,  that the reader will be more familiar European tradition than First Nation tradition, and secondly that it will be more challenging for the reader to understand First Nations’ performance than European performance.

It is not an unfounded rhetorical decision to assume that the reader will have an easier time understanding European performance than First Nation’s performance. According to a United Nation’s Live population tracker, Canada has a population of 37,152,262 people as of today February 8th 2019.  The last religious survey conducted was back in 2011. The population at that time was 32,852,320 people. I grant that population has changed drastically since 2011 and our religious survey information is out of date. However, working within the available information, we see that their were a total of 22,102,745 confirmed christian practicers, while there were only 64,935 confirmed who identified themselves to believing in a “traditional (aboriginal) spirituality.” There is a massive difference in number of people who would be more familiar with traditional christian stories than traditional First Nation stories.  We can also assume that people of Muslim faith and of Jewish faith, both being Abarahmic religions with a long history of trade and contact with Christian society, would have a much similar understanding of christian tradition than First Nation tradition. There were in 2011, 329,495 confirmed Jewish practitioners in Canada and at that time there were 1,053,945 Muslim practitioners. 

Due to population alone (in 2011) we can see his choice was probably most likely a wise choice, if his intention was was educate about the challenges of first contact.

The other implication our prompt question has us consider is that  “he is assuming that it is more difficult for a European to understand Indigenous performances – than the other way around.” I do not believe this is an assumption that Lutz makes and it is unfair to imply that he is making it.  Lutz assumes we will be familiar with the technology and the spiritual beliefs of the Spanish during First Contact with the Haida, because “we have insufficient distance from our own and our ancestor’s view” (Lutz 32). He then makes a special case to inform his reader how First Nation’s people may have had extreme difficulty understanding European culture as well. Lutz details a possible First Contact scenario involving First Nations rationals and spiritual practices appear quite reasonable when applied to the context of spiritual belief. The use of “dousing oneself in urine” to ward off spirts makes sense, if that was a embedded cultural belief. “being afraid of eating maggots” and seeing “skulls with rope running through their sockets” would terrify anyone if the sight was misunderstood.

It is difficult to understand anything without context. This is his Lutz overall point in the article. Because he assumes we have context regarding the European, Christian mythology, he uses this context as a way to help the reader understand why First Contact happened the way it did by providing spiritual context from the Haida perspective.  The implication that it is more difficult for one party to understand the other is an invalid point. Lutz shows quite clearly that both parties had a great deal of difficulty understanding each other.

There is a wonderful Star Trek the Next Generation episode dealing with exactly this topic. In the show Captain Picard is working to establish first contact with a race of aliens whose language is comprised of only references to their historical and mythological histories. The Universal translator had been destroyed and both Captain Picard and the Captain of the alien vessel became lost on an deserted planet awaiting rescue. Each Captain had to try to understand, not only language, but mythic history as well in order to understand each other and survive until rescue. The captain of the alien vessel kept drawing attention to a mythical first counter between two of his people called “Darmok” and “Jalad” at a place called “Tanagra”. Picard first has no idea who Darmok” and his compatriot “Jalad” was; however after considerable faith, understanding and patience Picard eventually learns that the people of this planet are not hostile and peace can be established through understanding of the repeated phrase “Shaka, when the walls fell.”


Picard and Alien Captain

It is this understanding or misunderstanding of context and the willingness or unwillingness to accommodate beliefs that allow for peaceful or violent interactions between the Spanish and the Haida. It is Lutz’s point that context is everything and in our particular case religious context was vital.

Works Cited

Canadian Demographics At A Glance, Second Edition”. Www150.Statcan.Gc.Ca, 2019, https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/91-003-x/2014001/section03/33-eng.htm.

“Canada Population (2019) – Worldometers”. Worldometers.Info, 2019, http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/canada-population/.

Star Trek the Next Generation, Season 5 Episode 2, “Darmok” “The Hollow”, September 30th 1991.





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This Feels Like Home


Read at least 6 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.

Our class is full of unique and exciting people. Their experiences are rich and varied. I feel truly honoured to be allowed to glimpse into the unique lives and experiences of these wonderful people. As we can see from reading each other’s blogs, we all come from different places and different cultures, but similarities remain. Here is a list of a few similarities I’ve noticed on our thoughts about home. A special thank you to Ross Hilliam, Andrea Melton, Kristen Boyd, Marianne Browning, Alexis Long and Georgina Wilkins for allowing me to glimpse into your lives.

  1. Memory. It appears that home is a place of memory. What makes a home feel like home are all the wonderful (and sometimes not so wonderful) memories associated with that place. Memory enriches a place and gives it some importance in our minds. Memory of a place allows us to dissect who we are and who we were, at any given time in our lives. The memories associated with a place tends to (not always) give us comfort.
  2. Belonging. Home is a place of belonging. It is important for us to feel as if we are a part of something greater. Whether that belonging is a part of a city, or a province or a country or a people, it is that sense of belonging that we crave, and that ultimately gives us that feeling of safety and of comfort. We want to feel as if we are included, accepted and integral. I have attached a wonderful article on what belonging is and how it relates to story telling, and to stress and to happiness. As the article statesBelonging is primal, fundamental to our sense of happiness and well-being.” (CNN The importance of belonging) Our sense of home fosters this sense of belonging and allows us to relax and grow.
  3. Home is Malleable. Home can take many different forms, for some home is a place, a particular space, for others it is a culture, some is a family. Home can grow. Home can be one or more of these things and we can feel “at home” in more than one instance. One can have more than one home. Home is partly this is associated with memory, and partly associated with people and connections.

    There is a wonderful quote by William Shakespeare pictured below. This quote is from As You Like it. Taken out of  the context of the play, it seems more applicable to me now. Travellers can be at home anywhere, where memory grasps their attention. Where we were born may have been a special place, but home can be anywhere. 

    I do not own this picture

  4. Culture. Culture relates to belonging. It is important to feel where one belongs. Culture is a way to make people feel at ease. Culture does not just relate to social culture, but racial culture as well. This is not to say that the company of mixed race culture is bad in anyway, and no blog I have read has even implied this, but culture provokes questions about what belonging is.



Economic status is something that wasn’t touched on much, but was a vital part of some classmates sense of what home is. This difference is a part of everyone’s home life whether it is noticed or not. It is a very important factor on what determines a home.In conclusion, It seems that home is a way to define yourself. A place to be safe and comfortable. This is accomplished through many ways and no one home is the same as another. They can be exactly the same in many ways, but it is the emotional connection and how that place has contributed to the growth of the person who considers it home.

Here is an article on “The psychology of home” . This article seems to sum up the importances of memory, and economy in how it relates to humans’ feeling of what home is. It is consistent with what we’ve told each other, and told ourselves.

This exercise was initially very difficult for me. I had no idea what home meant. I thought about what home could mean and took several days to process and had several anxiety attacks thinking, perhaps I had no home.

It was after reading several of my classmates blogs, posting questions on facebook and reading articles about home that I realized what home meant to me. This assignment was not only useful in contextualizing what home means its relationship to First Nation’s relations and history, but allowing me to identify what home means to me personally, on an emotional level.


Works cited

The blogs of : Ross Hilliam, Andrea Melton, Kristen Boyd, Marianne Browning, Alexis Long and Georgina Wilkins.

 Beck, Julie. “The Psychology Of Home: Why Where You Live Means So Much”. The Atlantic, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2011/12/the-psychology-of-home-why-where-you-live-means-so-much/249800/.

Amanda Enayati, Special to CNN. “The Importance Of Belonging – CNN”. CNN, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2012/06/01/health/enayati-importance-of-belonging/index.html.

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Penticton: Peaches, Beaches, and The Syilx Nation.

Home to me, is where I was born, where I grew up, and the society of that small town. Home is a feeling of safety, of familiarity and of family. Home is a place of belonging, of memory and a part of a history.

Nestled between two lakes, up a hill, and on a quiet cul de sac, is where I consider my home. I was born and raised in the small Okanagan city of Penticton, British Columbia. The scenery is beautiful, the wine plentiful, and quality fruit is always nearby. Munson’s Mountain, The West Bench, Naramata road, and the endless array of orchards and wineries stretch along Okanagan Lake, overlooking the pristine blue that stretches all the way through the valley to Armstrong and Vernon. There is a cemetary, in town, where my grandfathers are buried, overlooking the lake. The view was once put on the Canadian $100.00 bill. I’d like to think my grandfathers approve of their placement.

Neither of my parents were born in Penticton. My father comes from Swift Current, Saskatchewan and my Mother from Richmond BC. Both of them moved to Penticton when they were very young and grew up there. Both attended Middle School and High School there. My mom attended the same Elementary School as myself and my siblings. We had many of the same teachers. My family still lives there, and my sister’s kids are going to school there too, completing the same education with many of the same teachers as the rest of us.

When one lives in a small city, the whole city becomes your backyard and all its residents, your neighbours. My childhood was unremarkable. I played with my friends, biked along the old rail-road tracks, spent endless days at the beach, playing in the water and relaxing in the sand. I was very active in the theatre scene and was routinely cast in summer Shakespeare plays held at different wineries throughout the valley. It was impossible to avoid people, and rumour could get out of hand quickly.

The fertile land and many orchards has ruined fruit for me, as now my standards are very high. When biting into a peach and the juice doesn’t run down your chin, it’s a bad peach and is tossed away. The same goes for apples. Home is the feeling of a perfect bite of a peach. In the summer, the orchards of cherries blossom, and everywhere you look vendors are selling their fruit. My favourite were always the apricots from Jassar fruit stand, a five minute walk from my childhood home. Mr. Jassar always gave me extra because he knew I loved the apricots so much. It is this connection to the people back home that makes me feel like I belong there.

The final week of August is the city’s annual celebration, Peach Fest. This celebration lasts a week and there are musicians and vendors and performers presenting their skills and wares. Fireworks shows happen at dark over the lake, antique cars are lined up along the beach and everyone is selling fruit. Originally, Peach fest was a celebration of the harvest, but now the importance of the harvest has dwindled and it is just an excuse to celebrate with the whole city, but knowing the reason for the celebration helps me to feel like I belong there.

Penticton, in the traditional tongue of the Syilx people, an interior Salish tribe, means “a place to stay forever”, and although I do not live there now, my heart is there with my family and fond memories of childhood. Perhaps one day I will return permanently once I’ve made my mark in the world.

My home is the traditional territory of the Sylix people, now known as the Penticton Indian Band, but the land was colonized by Tom Ellis in 1866 when he moved into the valley to start his orchards and cattle ranch. The whole of Penticton was “given” to the PIB as part of a reservation, but government officials realized the land between the lakes was excellent and the reservation was shifted to the west side of the Penticton River Channel where the Penticton Indian Band Reservation currently lies. This still causes a lot of tension between the city of Penticton and the PIB.

Racism in Penticton, I’m ashamed to say, is still prevalent against the PIB. Agreements in city counsel are routinely blocked and requests from the PIB are ignored. I’ve heard racial slurs being hurled at our First Nation’s neighbours, with startling frequency.

We were not taught about the culture of the Syilx people in school at all and so the only time we would go onto the reservation was to drive up Apex mountain toward the ski hill.  The signs on the reservation were written in the traditional Syilx language and seemed magical and foreign to me. My home is split between two cultures.

My father is a wildlife biologist for the provincial government, and has many friends in the Penticton Indian Band and had met their chief a few times. One day, we were invited to a traditional Potlatch held on the reserve. They told stories, and beat drums and danced in traditional costumes and we all ate together dishes of smoked salmon. It was the most incredible experience and the memory is vivid even now. I remember feeling out of place because I didn’t know the language, even though they translated the stories. I remember thinking “I was born here too, how come I don’t know the language.” That question still bothers me, but I worry acting on my interest in Syilx language is inappropriate as I am not part of that nation. I have been told there is a Syilx language school in Penticton, perhaps that would be something to look into if ever I return permanently. 

What does it mean to be at home? My experience, being born in Penticton and growing up there, isn’t the same as members of the PIB. We live in the same town, attend the same festivals, go to the same schools, and yet our culture and our language are different enough that a young boy of 10 could be enthralled and mystified at the potlatch ceremony and experience something completely inconceivable and long lasting. 

Penticton over Okanagan Lake

I’ve taken some information from Wikipedia on the history of Penticton. Check it out here


Works cited

“Thomas Ellis (Irish Emigrant)”. En.Wikipedia.Org, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Ellis_(Irish_emigrant).

“Penticton”. En.Wikipedia.Org, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penticton.

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Grimwold brings evil into the world.

Before the birth of mortal men, in days dim and distant, a mistake was made.

A boy, blessed and beloved, born to the All-Father, Beorhthelm The Bold,
Graced the grass of what we now know as Earth.
The Gods granted him the name of Grimwold, and with this name, a prophecy foretold.
Ewias The Wise, warned that the boy would bring ruin to the world,
And so Beorthelm The Bold, entrusted the infant to Ewias,
Who banished the boy from heaven, and built for him, a library to keep the boy busy.
Locked away in the largest library on lonely Earth, Grimwold began to read.
Under the watchful tutelage of Ewias was Grimwold well instructed.
The child was quick and curious, and his lust of knowledge knew no rest.
He diligently devoured, texts and tomes of mystery and magics,
And soon learned of language and of love and of poetry and of passion.
Grimwold read and wrote, studied and surveyed, and contributed to the collection,
But prophecy is rarely perfect, and something succeeded that was not foreseen.
Grimwold’s magics began to manifest. When he read aloud, his words warped and writhed, cracked and created, and brought forth ideas from the void into actuality.
At first, his magics were marvelous. Grimwold spoke of Life and of Law,
And so all life and the first men were manifest.
Grimwold spoke of poetry and of prose,
And of science and of scholarship and of all those things Grimwold so adored.

And the world was at peace.

But soon, Grimwold grew green with envy.
Locked in his library without liberty, he began to speak of anger and of abandonment.
He spoke of falsehoods and of fabrication and murder and of malice.
And so too did these reveal themselves into reality.

And the world fell into chaos.

Ewias, realizing his error, launched himself to the library, and severed the tongue of his student,
But the damage could not be undone. Evil had wandered into the world.


Ewias Removing Grimwold’s Tongue


Once a story is told, reality makes it so. One can never take it back.
So, be careful of the stories you tell, AND the stories you listen to.


This assignment was so much fun. I felt as if a story of this magnitude needed to be told in the fashion of an Epic poem. The last Epic I had read was the story of Beowulf.

Anglo Saxon Epics are create rhyme with complex use of alliteration”(Anglo Saxon poetry). The link is attached if you are interested in reading on Anglo-Saxon Epics.  I am not as talented as a writer as that, but did attempt to use as much alliteration as possible without hindering the flow of the words. There are a few happy accidents of creating rhyme through use of alliteration, but generally the convention is abandoned.

The process was interesting for me. The story was given to us based on the story of the Witches in Thomas King’s The truth about stories, and the style was given to me by Anglo Saxon poets who wrote around the year 300. The story is my own but the way I got there was by taking points from other people’s stories and twisting them. It is interesting how to think the same premise of a story can be retold, over and over and over again with so many variations. The heart of the story remains intact.  

When I told this story to a few friends, the majority of the comments was about spreading misinformation. They said that Ewias had told a more correct version of the prophesy then the entire thing could have been avoided. Because Ewias did not have all the information to avoid causing the world to be destroyed, he should have voiced his concern that his prophesy may not have been accurate.  Once Ewias spoke of the prophecy, the decision danger was already in place, and the prophesy became self fulfilling. He could not have taken it back as Beorthelm would have still been worried about the possibility of the world’s ruin.


Works cited

“Medieval Tongue Removal – Medievalists.Net”. Medievalists.Net, 2019, http://www.medievalists.net/2015/07/the-afterlife-of-the-dead-reform-in-attitude-towards-medieval-burials-corpses-and-bones/tongue/.

 King, Thomas. The Truth About Stories: A Native Narriative. House Of Anansi Press Inc, 2003.

“Anglo-Saxon Poetry – New World Encyclopedia”. Newworldencyclopedia.Org, 2019, http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Anglo-Saxon_Poetry.Mralbertsclass.Files.Wordpress.Com, 2019,

Beowulf , https://mralbertsclass.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/beowulf-translation-by-seamus-heaney.pdf.


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The Take Home Message From, “If this is your land, Where are your stories?” Exercise 1.3

In the final chapter of If this is your land, Where are your stories? There were many more than three interesting topics that stuck with me, but the the most interesting metaphor used by Chamberlain, is that of table manners. In the first chapter, he tells us a story of watching an old Ukrainian woman eat peas with a knife, and upon replication, he is chastised by his parents for his poor table manners. “Learn to speak Ukrainian and you can eat peas with a knife” (Chamberlain 9) This metaphor is reused in the final chapter of the book, and explains its relevance by likening table manners to the concepts of subjective truth, the importance of commonality through ceremony, and the use of title as an excuse for societal dominance.

Subjective truth is a wonderfully profound concept. What is truth? Why is what I believe any or less valid than what someone else believes? Plato tell us “the allegory of the cave” to help us define the path to truth. The most interesting point that Chamberlain makes “contradictory truths can be troubling” (Chamberlain 221)  and as uncomfortable as the thought makes us it will allow us to establish a dialog when we realize that both sides must work together to find common truth. We can find common truth by connecting with each other with the same wonder of a man who has exited the cave for the first time. We must leave our caves (what we have been told is true) in order to see truth. The only way to leave our cave is to explore and ask for assistance from people who have left the cave, (or a person with experience different from our own.

On page 220 of If this is your land, Where are your stories? Chamberlain tell us a story of the Gitksan people’s oral legend of a landslide. This story involved the displeasure of the gods and a heard of running grizzly bears creating a landslide which buried the people of Temlaxum, a village at the base of the sacred mountain Stekyooden. A court proceeding denied this as evidence of the Gistkan people living in the area for over seven thousand years, as their story claimed. They decided to conduct an experiment of their own. Members of the court committee took a core sample of land, and sixty meters down, they found scientific evidence of mud that matches the top of the sacred mountain of Stekyooden, confirming the presence of the Gitksan people. By conducting the core extraction exercise, the committee questioned their knowledge, exited their cave briefly and found a new understanding, one which the Gitksan people already knew. The Gitksan’s story was understood by the committee in the same way the prisoners in the cave understood the shadows. True in part, but by accepting that the story might be true, they were able to find the exit to the cave.

The story, although presented in a spiritual fashion, proved just as accurate as the core sample. So, it is the same when it comes to co-existing. Although it is sometimes a challenge for different groups to co-exist, it is important to remember who’s table we sit at. Some table manners are different in the Ukraine, that does make the wrong?  Some evidence is presented as legend, does its presentation make it any less accurate? Who’s company do we share, and what information can they provide us? We must assume that we all are in a different area of the cave and those we speak to have information we do not yet possess. It is only together that we can find our way out into the world of peace and enlightenment.

This brings us to the second concept that I found interesting in the final chapter of the book, the concept of shared ceremony. Chamberlain tells us the story of religious rivalry in Dublin between the Irish Protestant groups and Irish Catholic groups. On page 222 Chamberlain says “both Catholics and Protestants set borders by means of slogans chalked on the walls of buildings” (Chamberlain 222) and that “It was deadly and dangerous to misinterpret the message and you did not want to linger on the borderline. In this case Protestants and Catholics found a shared ceremony by agreeing on “common ground” (Chamberlain 223). This common ground was a mutually understood message written on the walls. Both members of the Catholic parties and Protestant parties understood “the table manners” of this neutral zone and no one would be hurt.

If we mix metaphors to explain co-operation as table manners while residing in a cave then the analogy can be expanded to include borders and title. By creating a title of ownership, we essentially build a wall and block off others from entering our alcove of understanding in Plato’s cave. We reinforce the idea of difference. On this side of the wall (my land) we eat peas with a fork and nothing you can say will change my mind. If we knock down the wall, light from the fire comes in, and new understanding permeates our alcove of current understanding. If we build a table, we eat can together, share knowledge and resources and cooperate to find a route out of the maze of tunnels the cave possess. We must build a shared ceremony so that we can benefit from each other’s company without offence. This set of “table manners” needs to begin at a civic level, and a provincial level and a federal level. The entire structure of our politics needs to change to allow room for our friend’s histories, traditions, and beliefs. We must abandon our concept of my land and your land, and find ways to honour each others existence, knowledge and wisdom.

It is my belief that we must all strive to create a new set of table manners, from scratch, dictated in the traditions of both cultures in equal proportions. Communication is key to success. This communication first comes from the willingness of both parties to cooperate as equals to listen to each others stories and accept both stories as truth. It is not a rejecting of your host’s traditions or one’s own traditions that is the goal, but a mutual respect for the table we both sit at.

To help put with the understanding of the manners metaphor I have included an article, here, that shows differences in manners around the world.

In summary here are some thoughts I’ve taken away:

1. Truth is subjective and “contradicting truths can be equally truthful”
2. In order to co-operate, a mutual language of respect must be developed by sharing a common ritual, based on mutual understanding.
3. No one knows everything. No one system is perfect. Cooperation requires humility and a willingness to adapt, within reason.

Here is a diagram of Plato’s cave.

Found online. I do not own this material.

Works Cited

Oshin, Mayo. “Plato’S Allegory Of The Cave: Life Lessons On How To Think For Yourself.”. Mayo Oshin, 2019, https://mayooshin.com/plato-allegory-of-the-cave/

“12 Lessons In Manners From Around The World”. Wise Bread, 2019, https://www.wisebread.com/12-lessons-in-manners-from-around-the-world.

Chamberlin, J. Edward. If This Is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories?. Knopf Canada, 2004.

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A Friendly Introduction

Good afternoon to you all!

I am very excited to study Canadian literature with you all during our upcoming semester together! I am eager to get to know you all personally.

My name is Sean Dyer and I am a graduate of the University of Victoria, with a BFA in Theatre. My specialization was in Acting, however I enjoy writing drama just as much. My secondary focus is on literature.  I have an extreme interest in classical and modern drama with a particular interest in Canadian Drama. Some of my greatest idols are Canadian playwrights. Kevin Kerr is a personal friend and idol of mine. I hope to emulate his work. I hope to join his ranks and others like him to produce new, relevant drama about Canadians, set in Canada. I am currently writing a full length farcical play set in Whistler. The project is slow going but I am optimistic about its potential.

I enjoy conversation and debate. I hope to engage in some friendly debate and philosophical conversations with you all during our upcoming semester.

It is my intention to apply for UBC’s Bachelor of Education in Secondary studies with a specialization in English and Theatre.  This class stood out to me as the perfect way to learn more about what makes Canada unique and how I can integrate that knowledge into my art.

With the chance of sounding like a suck-up (although it is not my intention) I am excited to work with Professor Erika Paterson. Upon reading her biography, I’ve come to learn her background is very similar to my own and I am excited to learn all I can.


Lately, I have been musing about our cultural history. What makes Canadian’s Canadian? I have been discussing this question with several of my Pen Pals in recent months and don’t have an answer. I hope by studying Canadian culture through literature, I can find a satisfactory answer to that question, and help to define that answer with my work. I hope the answer is broad and leads me down many interesting paths. I hope to learn more about Canada’s literary canon, read some excellent works, and find out how a new country develops their identity through literature.

To hopefully spark your interest in Canadian Drama. I have included a link to the Ryga festival, which is “multi-day arts festival featuring live music, play readings and artistic workshops, symposiums, and more – all with a connection to – or that are inspired by – internationally performed Canadian playwright, novelist, poet, and Summerland resident George Ryga” (Ryga festival website/ About the festival)   just outside my home town of Penticton B.C.

Another wonderful CBC article that I happened to come across that you all might find interesting is this one: Here are some 14 plays that changed Canadian Theatre according to CBC.

An image from Judith Thompson’s Lion in the Streets, produced at the University of Victoria’s Phoenix Theatre. (I’m the priest)

Works Cited

“The Ryga Arts Festival.” Ryga Arts Festival, www.rygafest.ca/ryga-festival/
“The 14 Plays That Changed Everything for Canadian Theatre | CBC Arts.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 3 Nov. 2017, www.cbc.ca/arts/the-14-plays-that-changed-everything-for-canadian-theatre-1.4385954.

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