“FINDING MR. WONG: A TALE FROM CANADA’S EXCLUSION ERA” IN NEW CANADIAN MEDIA

Chinese Canadian History: Mr Wong

In New Canadian Media, June 1, 2019

The story of Chinese immigration to Canada is best known for two things. First, the arrival of Chinese labourers in large numbers in the late 1800s to build the crucial last link of the Canadian Pacific Railway—the most difficult and dangerous section which required crossing the Rocky Mountains. And second, for the institution of a head tax meant to dissuade those very men from remaining in the country once the work was completed…

Read the full article Finding Mr. Wong: A Tale From Canada’s Exclusion Era here.

“CANADIANS MUST ACKNOWLEDGE INDIGENOUS HISTORY” IN THIS MAGAZINE

In This Magazine Sept-Oct 2016

"The theme of remembering runs through the 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). It is behind the suggestion that Indigenous curricula be mandatory and in Justice Murray Sinclair’s insistence that non-Indigenous Canadians learn about residential schools and Indigenous history. In the context of reconciliation, how do we do this?"

Read Susan Crean's article "Canadians must acknowledge Indigenous history," online here.

“WRITING MR. WONG” IN THIS MAGAZINE

In This Magazine, Nov-Dec, 2012.

This is the backstory to Finding Mr. Wong, the book on the life of Mr. Wong and why it has been possible for me to write it.  In the first instance, this is because of the help and openness of Chinese Canadians who made the search not just doable but successful beyond any expectation. The changes in Canadian society since Mr. Wong’s death in 1970 has meant that the close, familial association across race we had is no longer so unusual; it’s become a commonplace experience. Canadians have taken to practicing diversity at home and work, and slowly it’s become part of our identity. We’ve pride in our multicultural cities, and see multiculturalism as an ideal, a standard of tolerance and non-discrimination.

Read the article "Writing Mr. Wong" online here.

“BOTH SIDES NOW: DESIGNING WHITE MEN AND THE OTHER SIDE OF HISTORY”

In Response, Responsibility, and Renewal — Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Journey. Eds., Gregory Young-Ing, et al. Ottawa, Aboriginal Healing Foundation, 2009.

"Along with the narrative about the founding of Canada by both the French and the English came the notion—preached by the likes of Emily Carr and Marius Barbeau, as well as D.C. Scott—of Aboriginal culture constituting Canada’s ancient past, the prehistory upon which the modern nation could be built and with which an authentic Canadian culture could be fashioned.... The story of Canada I was raised on, thus, denied the connection between assimilation and appropriation, between the past and the present."

For several years I worked on the issue of Traditional Knowledge with Greg Young-Ing who was a founding co-chair of the Creator’s Right’s Alliance in 2002 along with Michel Beauchemin and me (representing respectively Indigenous Peoples, Quebec and Canada). Greg was an editor of the second volume of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s anthology called Response, Responsibility, and Renewal — Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Journey, and following a conversation we had in Toronto about the non-involvement of Canadians who are not directly implicated in the residential school tragedy (ie. the State, the churches, the victims, and the individual perpetrators of abuse who happened to get caught) he suggested I write something. The third volume looks at “Cultivating Canada — Reconciliation through the lens of Cultural Diversity" and also makes the point that reconciliation is everyone’s business.

Download a PDF version of the essay "Both Sides Now: Designing White Men and the Other Side of History."

BOOK REVIEW: “REID REDUCED” IN NOW MAGAZINE

Book Review of Bill Reid: The Making of an Indian by Maria Tippett (Random House) in Now Magazine, March 4, 2004 

Maria Tippett is first out of the gate with her bio of renowned Haida artist Bill Reid. It covers the bases, delivering a readable, informative text about the artist's life and work (Reid died of Parkinson's disease in 1998), but it's a cranky, limited first read of the man. Tippett's subtitle - The Making Of An Indian - identifies the theme of her study, and it's obvious that she perceives Reid as something of a charlatan. The inconsistencies in his story about his relationship to his Haida ancestry are seen as opportunistic, as are his collaborations with other artists and his use of assistants in his large-scale carvings.

Read Susan Crean's book review "Reid Reduced" of Maria Tippett's Bill Reid: The Making of an Indian online here.