Tag Archives: documentary

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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Remembering Christopher Hitchens

Today marks the what would have been Christopher Hitchens’ 66th birthday. While the controversial writer lost his long battle with cancer in 2011, nearly half a decade later his legacy continues to remain a puzzle to most. To some, Hitchens was a brilliant iconoclast, fearlessly proclaiming truth and reason in a world crippled by political correctness and blind sentimentality. To others, Hitchens was a traitor who abandoned his radical roots in favor of jack-booted imperialism and  militarism. After all this time, the question remains: Who was Hitchens?

Born in Porstmouth, England, Hitchens first began his prolific career as a writer for a number of leftist magazines, eventually joining New Statesman in the early 70s, where he quickly made a name for himself as a fiery critic of the the Vietnam War. Hitchens would go on to become an acclaimed foreign correspondent, frequent contributor to The Nation and Vanity Fair, and unapologetic critic of most of the political establishment. No one- from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton, from Jerry Falwell to the royal family- escaped Hitchens’ unique blend of unimpeachable logic and acidic invectives. Hitchens made a name for himself in particular by viciously decrying Henry Kissinger, who he argued (not without cause) was a power-worshiping war criminal…

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3 Things About Valentine’s Day That Are Less Fun to Criticize Than 50 Shades of Grey

My Facebook feed has been peppered with articles about 50 Shades of Grey in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, and the discussion doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon. I certainly do agree that the books and movie sound like they have some super abusive content, and that they might just signal a larger cultural problem that we aren’t deal with, but I also feel like they’re just a little too easy to criticize.

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Instead of preaching to the choir about the 50 Shades series, I plan to make us all feel guilty about the part of Valentine’s Day that is much harder to address: consumerism. This post will focus specifically on the three most common gifts associated with the holiday: flowers, chocolate, and jewelry.

1. Flowers

Did I ever tell you about the job I had picking flowers? It wasn’t actually as easy as it sounds.

The organization I worked for paid by the bundle. If you didn’t cut the stems long enough, or if you included any flowers that had already started to bloom, that bunch was thrown out and you wouldn’t get paid for it. At first, I kind of enjoyed the work. It was monotonous, so I had lots of time for thinking, and I loved being outside in the sun. Unfortunately, it wasn’t always sunny. When it rained my shoes would be sucked deep into the mud. Not to mention how being constantly bent-over made my back hurt. Often, at the end of the day, I would suddenly
realize that the money I made didn’t even equal out to minimum wage. As soon as I was able to get another job, I quit.

That experience was probably the first time I started to think about the history of flowers. Where did they come from? Who picked them? How far were they being shipped? Continue reading

Unpacking the Importance of The Whiteness Project

I rarely double up on posts during the week, and I just wrote pretty great review of this month’s issue of Ms. Marvel [if I do say so myself], but I felt the need to spotlight a little something called The Whiteness Project and field a few more opinions from you about the entire thing-

I chose to feature the same guy The Guardian did, because how could I not?

I chose to feature the same guy The Guardian did, because how could I not?

The Whiteness Project is, to let their About page speak for itself:

“a multiplatform investigation into how Americans who identify as ‘white’ experience their ethnicity.”

This investigation is carried out through interviews with White Americans, some of whom you can see in the image up above. Speaking to the camera, and consequently us [due to their use of the Interrotron camera technique], these men and women share how they relate to and understand their ethnicity and what it means in today’s United States. Continue reading

Cool It: A Documentary Review

So I watched this documentary last night:


Before watching Cool It I expected it to be just like Expelled, which, in my opinion, had a very strong right wing agenda I don’t want to imply that everything “right-wing” is innately propaganda, or that the left isn’t just as capable of creating its own propaganda, but I disliked Expelled‘s attempt to undermine evolution by framing all creationists as victims. So I wasn’t really watching this film with much of an open mind, but by the end was actually impressed. Just a heads up, from this point on there are spoilers galore. Continue reading

Fame Day: Slightly Better Representation at the Oscars

goodjoboscarsLast year around this time I wrote a scathing article for my school paper about Seth Macfarlane’s attempt at hosting the Oscars in which I primarily focused on how his “We Saw Your Boobs” song basically undermined any hope for women to be taken seriously in Hollywood. In light of that I felt like this year I should balance out my review of the Oscars and acknowledge some of the good things they did this time around.  Continue reading