Tag Archives: country

Filmmaker Christine Welsh on Tracing Her Heritage in Women In the Shadows

My Canadian studies class recently watched Women in the Shadows, a documentary by feminist filmmaker and professor, Christine Welsh. Not long after we had watched her film Welsh agreed to visit our class for a question and answer period. Below I’ve included a little of what I learned from her film and her visit.

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Norbert Welsh’s oral history was recorded by Mary Weekes.

In an article detailing her documentary experience, Welsh explains that her interest had been sparked when her mother recovered a copy of The Last Buffalo Hunter, an oral history by her great grandfather, Norbert Welsh. In the film, however, Welsh attempts to recover more information about her great grandmothers, figures who were much harder to trace.

Along her search, Welsh discovers the name of her great grandmother, Margaret Taylor, and Margaret’s mother, Jane. Welsh surmises that Jane was most likely Cree. Jane’s union with George Taylor meant that Margaret was one of the first generations of Metis women. While documentation about women was lacking during early colonization, Welsh was able to uncover some details about her foremothers because of Margaret Taylor’s connection to Hudson’s Bay Company Governor George Simpson.

In the early period of Canadian colonization, Hudson’s Bay employees often took “country wives”. These women, of First Nations or Metis heritage, would create family ties between the explorers and the local community and were often the reason their husbands survived their first few Canadian winters. In Women in the Shadows, Welsh discovers that Taylor had been Simpson’s “country wife” for many years, only to be cast aside by Simpson when he returned from a trip to England with a new white wife.

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Rowling’s Wizarding World: Just As Small As Ours, Unfortunately

I like the Harry Potter books. I just can’t say I love them [my favourite YA series of novels is Percy Jackson & the Olympians], and after having finished all seven and catching the last few movies in theatres haven’t thought about them much. Certainly not enough to give the Pottermore website, created by Rowling to give HP fans what they continue to jones for, even a cursory visit.

On that same note I haven’t really been following Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a prequel and spin-off to the film franchise, aside from perking up at the idea that protagonist Newt Scamander might be something other than White. I briefly mentioned it back in 2013 when covering the inherent problem with assuming that White is the norm, but ultimately stopped paying attention after it was officially announced last June that Eddie Redmayne had been cast in the role.

That said, fantasy worlds and the worldbuilding involved in their creation have always interested me, and I didn’t hesitate to click on a link a friend had shared on Facebook stating that Rowling had “[revealed] four wizarding schools, including one in the United States“, with the latter being one of the settings in the upcoming film. After all, if one of the aforementioned magical places of learning was to be in North America chances were that the other three were located elsewhere. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire had always been my favourite of the series, with one of the many reasons being that it featured the two other wizarding schools and characters from them, expanding the universe beyond the borders of Great Britain. Continue reading

Culture War Correspondence: Being Canadian

EVAN: I was going to start off this introduction with a whole slew of Canadian stereotypes, complete with obnoxious faux-Canadian-written-accent, but let’s be honest, my inexperience with all such things is what originally made me opt for this topic in the first place.

This commercial should help fill in a few blanks, though.

It should be no secret to many of you that Kat hails from the Great White North, and while I myself was born there I’ve spent much of my life abroad. In today’s discussion our goal is to work through some of what it means to count oneself a Canuck.

KAT: This will be no easy task, since in our two corners of the country Evan and I are both closer to the States than we are to each other. Does Canada even have a distinct culture? Or are we like one massive tumour growing onto American pop culture?

Why don’t we start by spitballing some of the things we both tell people about when describing our “home and native land”? Continue reading

Fame Day: Aung San Suu Kyi

When I was young, I can’t remember how young exactly, I watched the movie Beyond Rangoon with my parents. It’s a pretty typical American movie in that the protagonist is, of course, American. But I remember this one scene that used to give me chills; in fact, it still gives me chills. The protagonist stumbles upon a protest that centers around a woman I had never heard of before, Aung San Suu Kyi.

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Fame Day: Johnny Cash

Readers, I do what I can to keep my fame days contemporary, but with Switzerland pretty much legalizing apartheid, bloody crackdowns in Egypt, and network giant Cisco cutting 5% of it’s workforce, finding something positive today just isn’t happening. So I figured I’d reach back a bit and pull out a shining beacon of hope from days gone by- my favorite music artist of all time, Johnny Cash.

Yes, he is looking at your soul.

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Black Panther, Batwing, and African Superheroes

Four days ago actor Morris Chestnut, who will appear in the upcoming Kick-Ass 2, posted the following on both his Twitter feed and Facebook page:

It’s time to get familiar with the Black Panther character.

This prompted the usual onslaught of internet speculation, and both have since been taken down. The next day he wrote a tweet to quell the masses who were clamouring to hear more about an upcoming Black Panther film.

I, for one, was personally grateful to hear this news.

“Why?” you might be asking, “Evan, I thought you were all about introducing the Wakandan super-king into the Marvel cinematic universe.” You would not be wrong in your assessment, and let me explain why, exactly, I felt this way. Continue reading