December 31, 2009
In the southwest of the city, trees were covered in hoar frost, Christmas lights shone through halos of dense fog and there were patches of black ice on the bridge across the Bow. My mind was far away even as I listened. I had googled Cambodia before we went to the dinner invitation, but nothing could have prepared me to meet this survivor of the “killing fields.” This gifted scientist, with an unshakable belief in God, was the sole infant who somehow miraculously clung to life while hundreds of mother’s babies lay lifeless beside him, around him, under him. He rejects the label of miracle child, preferring to travel the globe to study, to learn and to share, to either help or do no harm . . . with an intensity that can be vertiginous.
A group of Vietnamese-American immigrants compiled the following list of cultural differences (1978) shortly after arriving in the United States when they were living between two worlds. Dr. Douglas K. Chung, Professor at Grand Valley State University School of Social Work, Grand Rapids, Michigan (1992) included this comparison to enhance understanding of cultural shock that Indochinese refugees experience in Western countries.
|We live in time.||We live in space.|
|We are always at rest.||We are always on the move.|
|We are passive.||We are aggressive.|
|We accept the world as it is.||We try to change it according to our blueprint.|
|We like to contemplate.||We like to act.|
|We live in peace with nature.||We try to impose our will on nature.|
|Religion is our first love.||Technology is our passion.|
|We delight to think about the meaning of life.||We delight in physics.|
|We believe in freedom of silence.||We believe in freedom of speech.|
|We lapse in meditation||We strive for articulation.|
|We marry first, then love.||We love first, then marry.|
|Our marriage is the beginning of a love affair.||Our marriage is a happy end of a romance.|
|Love is an indissoluble bond.||Love is a contract.|
|Our love is mute.||Our love is vocal.|
|We try to conceal it from the world.||We delight in showing it to others.|
|Self-denial is a secret to our survival.||Self-assertiveness is the key to our success.|
|We are taught from the cradle to want less and less.||We are urged every day to want more and more.|
|We glorify austerity and renunciation.||We emphasize gracious living and enjoyment.|
|Poverty is to us a badge of spiritual elevation.||Poverty is to us a sign of degredation.|
|In the sunset years of life, we renounce the world and prepare for the hereafter.||We retire to enjoy the fruits of our labor.|
Dr. Douglas K. Chung, Professor at Grand Valley State University School of Social Work, Grand Rapids, Michigan (1992) included the following comparison to enhance understanding of cultural shock that Indochinese refugees experience in Western countries. A group of Vietnamese-American immigrants compiled this list of cultural differences shortly after arriving in the United States when they were living between two worlds.
Webliography and Bibliography
Chung, Douglas K. 1992.
Filed in AFlicktion, Ethnography, History, hospitality, memory, Power and everyday life, slow world, social cohesion
Tags: courage, culture shock, East-West, ethical topography of self and the Other, genocide, information-knowledge-wisdom, killing fields, Memory Work, social cohesion
December 1, 2007
How can a Canadian social scientist in 2007 set aside economic development, energy security, youth perspectives, mental and spiritual health issues to focus on climate change as it related to hunting, sea ice, and the maintenance of an Inuit [pre-contact?] way of life? What kind of questions were posed in encounters with “Inuit in their homes, in their offices, at the hotel, on the street, [. . .] on weekends as well as weekdays?” How much trust and intimacy can you develop in each community as you seek Inuit to gather impressions when the six-week enquiry is divided between tiny, remote towns, communities and hamlets like Nain in northern Labrador; Kuujjuaq in Nunavik; Iqaluit, Igloolik, Arctic Bay in Nunavut; Yellowknife, NWT and the Inuvialuit in western Arctic Ocean communities like Paulatuk and Tuktoyaktuk reached in twenty-five zigzag flights covering 24,000 kilometres? How does that put people in the picture in our studies of the Arctic? Where is the background context based on Inuit-initiated research? Where are the sources so a public policy researcher can follow through with questions arising from this article? Has this article and lecture by the same name helped in anyway to revisit the distorted history of the Inuit as called for in the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People (1996)? These are some of the questions in response to Griffiths’ (2007) article published in the Walrus magazine.
It is misleading to suggest that increased suicide will be a future unintended consequence of the destruction of the Inuit lifestyle without acknowledging the heart-rending on-going tragedy of youth suicide epidemic, with rates that are among the highest in the planet, that directly or indirectly touches every northern Inuit community as well as thousands of urban Inuit in the south. How can any social scientist claim a people-centred ethnography while skimming over key social issues and structional changes affecting Inuit lives such as land claims implementation and human rights concerns regarding access to housing, employment, health and education services (the early exit from schooling). Two or three well-edited and well-researched paragraphs could have briefly traced a critical Inuit social history to dismantle some of the commonly held myths about the north. Readers would have benefited from a more accurate thumbnail sketch of the complexity of Inuit today: linguistic disparities, Inuit governing bodies, local initiatives, the long history of meddling in Inuit affairs by successive waves of interlopers. At the end of the lecture did the assistant from PEI understand that Inuit do not live in igloos anymore and that there are Inuit hunters who are politically-saavy individuals with cellphones and computers who travel frequently to regional, national and international conferences. Did no Inuit in his travels mention the northerly creep of flora and fauna? Would Griffiths not have found both those who are deeply troubled, skeptical or even optimistic about climate change among Newfoundland fishers, PEI farmers, Alberta ranchers, First Nations hunters? Would isolationist southern fishers, farmers and ranchers not also be found to be ruled by immediacy, pragmatic and immediate in their responses to climate change? “As in the Arctic, local opinion tends to be conservative. Quite apart from the collapse of Canadian historical awareness and our ability to interrogate the future, opinion everywhere is presentist in its intent to keep things as they are (Griffiths 2007).” Did Griffiths manage to make meaningful any larger significance derived from local observations he gathered in six weeks?
“Inuit in particular may have something to tell us about civility as we extend it from the domain of human relations to that of nature at a time when the human condition is directly threatened by civilization (Griffiths 2007).”
“A crisis narrative is one that tells of impending disaster, explains why it is coming, and instructs the threatened in what to do. It is presented by others, familiar or foreign, who seek to persuade us of their view of our situation, and of our need to join promptly in the measures they recommend. But for those who already see themselves as put upon by unfamiliar or foreign others, the call to accept a crisis narrative is especially galling. A discourse of disaster that originates with others who are known to be dominant cannot but present a threat to our autonomy, to our ability to set our own priorities, to trust what we observe and experience in our everyday lives. This is what Louis Tapardjuk was talking about in Igloolik. Accepted, crisis narratives legitimate the authority and control of distant experts, officials, and decision-makers. They open the way to large-scale intrusions into our way of life (Griffiths 2007).”
Franklyn Griffiths, George Ignatieff Chair emeritus of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Toronto and co-founder of the Arctic Council, “travelled from one end of Canada’s Arctic to the other — from northern Labrador to the mouth of the Mackenzie River — between late April and early June. Seeking out and gathering impressions in encounters with Inuit from Nain to Kuujjuaq and Iqaluit to Igloolik and Arctic Bay, and on out to Yellowknife, Inuvik, Tuktoyaktuk, and Paulatuk, I flew some 24,000 kilometres in twenty-five flights. His initial contacts were with the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK). [. . .] I saw Inuit in their homes, in their offices, at the hotel, on the street, wherever I could, on weekends as well as weekdays. Setting aside economic development, energy security, youth perspectives, public health including the mental and spiritual, and any number of other possible themes, I determined to centre on climate change as it related to hunting, sea ice, and the maintenance of an Inuit way of life (Griffiths 2007).”
James Lovelock (2006) in his fictional horror story of climate change, a sensationalist crisis narrative, The Revenge of Gaia, described a world that’s became so unbearably hot that almost all humanity was destroyed and the last remnants of humankind subsisted in the High Arctic where they were forced to relocate. It became so hot there would be camels in the Arctic.
Sheila Watt-Cloutier, “the former international chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, who is seeking to bring the US government before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. She and other Canadian and Alaskan Inuit claim that the Inuit way of life is being destroyed as a consequence of greenhouse gas emissions produced by the United States (Griffiths 2007).”
Inuvialuit in communities like Paulatuk and Tuktoyaktuk “are the most clearly menaced by foreseeable change, which could see average surface air temperature rise by as much as 6°C by the end of the century — about three times the expected global mean increase (Griffiths 2007).”
“[T]he Arctic is the world’s climate change barometer. Inuit are the mercury in that barometer. What is happening in the Arctic now will happen soon further south.” Inuit are adaptable and resourceful, she added. But she also foresaw “a time — well within the lifetime of my eight-year-old grandson — when environmental change will be so great that Inuit will no longer be able to maintain their hunting culture. Global warming has become the ultimate threat to Inuit culture and our survival as an indigenous people.” Speaking on her behalf to a meeting in New York, Mary Simon drew Watt-Cloutier’s message to a very fine point a couple of years earlier: “When we can no longer hunt on the sea ice and eat what we hunt, we will no longer exist as a people (Griffiths 2007).”
Kusugak’s (2006) Unikkaaqatigiit Putting the Human Face on Climate Change: Perspectives from Inuit in Canada publication refers to the fearful possibility of “having to completely reinvent what it means to be Inuit.”
2000 Of all Inuit it was the Inuvialuit who first took climate change seriously, this with a path-breaking video co-produced with the International Institute for Sustainable Development and presented to Kyoto delegations at The Hague in 2000. Today, the Inuvialuit are planning for the relocation of coastal communities threatened by intense storm activity and rising sea levels (Griffiths 2007).”
2006 Kusugak, Jose. 2006. Unikkaaqatigiit Putting the Human Face on Climate Change: Perspectives from Inuit in Canada.
2007 Organized by the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences and held six times a year, the Breakfast on the Hill Lecture Series brings together parliamentarians, government officials, the media and the general public to hear important research on pertinent issues. In this November 22nd lecture, Franklyn Griffiths, Professor Emeritus of Political Science and George Ignatieff Chair Emeritus of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Toronto, presented his findings on climate change, the Inuit and Arctic sovereignty. Entitled “Camels in the Arctic?“, this lecture is based on research Griffiths did while traveling in the Arctic.
2007 Griffiths, Franklyn. 2007. “Camels in the Arctic?” Walrus Magazine. November 30.
Kusugak, Jose. 2006. Unikkaaqatigiit Putting the Human Face on Climate Change: Perspectives from Inuit in Canada.
Franklyn Griffiths is George Ignatieff Chair emeritus of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Toronto. He helped establish the Arctic Council.
Jose Kusugak is a past president of the national Inuit organization, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK)
Webliography and Bibliography
Griffiths, Franklyn. 2007. “Camels in the Arctic?” Walrus Magazine. November 30.
Griffiths, Franklyn. 2007. “Camels in the Arctic?” Breakfast on the Hill Lecture Series. November 22. Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.
CC Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Inuit Communities as the New DEW Line: Camels in the Arctic?” >> Google Docs. November 30, 2007.
CC Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Inuit Communities as the New DEW Line: Camels in the Arctic?” >> papergirls. November 30, 2007.
Filed in child poverty, climate change, ethics, forgetting, Memory Work, risk management, Risk Society, Social History Timeline, Social Justice, timelines, wealth disparities will intensify
Tags: Arctic Adventures, benign colonialism, endangered, ethical topography of self and the Other, Google Docs & Spreadsheets, Hudson's Bay Company, human agency, Iqaluit, Jennifer Naglingniq, modernity, nasiq, Nunavut, Places on the Margins, self and identity, social exclusion, vulnerability to social exclusion
November 22, 2007
It is surprising that so little attention outside of Quebec is being paid to one of the most robust contemporary exercises in democracy, the Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences. This commission on the social accommodation of religious and cultural minorities in Quebec, is participatory, accessible online, completely bilingual (French/English), pluridenominational and intercultural. Building on Quebec’s model of sociocultural integratation the Commission is examining issues related to managing diversity in a society committed to democratic participation and the protection of human rights. Issues discussed include relations with cultural communities, immigration, secularism with a focus on the management of religious diversity. Renowned Canadian philosopher, Charles Taylor, (1931-) and sociologist Gérard Bouchard will oversee the commission’s one-year mandate. The process includes gathering information from public and on-line forums.
Taylor argued that the media have promoted an image of Quebecers as exclusive by focussing on the most explosive racist and zenophobic comments. The modernate majority in Quebec are participating in the forums and are very welcoming toward immigrants and their cultures, and don’t adopt an attitude of exclusion (CBC 2007-11-16).
Some 88% of immigrants in Québec live in the Montréal area and account for 19% of the population (9.9% of the population of Québec). The population of Quebec is 7.6 million with 47% living in the Montréal area (GQ 2007:16).
1948 The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted.
1960s Debate[s in Quebec "sought to redefine powers and the division of responsibility between the State and the Catholic Church (GQ 2007:6)"
1960s "Québec has ranked among the top 10 host countries of immigrants* among the OECD countries [since at least the 1960s] (GQ 2007:16). Source: United Nations, Trends in Total Migrant Stock, 1960-2000, 2003 Revision, Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2004.
1970s Quebec adopted a “sociocultural integration* model or perspective. The sociocultural integration model compelled the Bouchard-Taylor Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences “to reexamine interculturalism,* relations with the cultural communities, immigration, secularism* and the theme of Québec’s identity as part of the Frenchspeaking countries and communities of the world. In a word, it is, in particular, the management of diversity, especially religious diversity, that appears above all to pose a problem (GQ 2007:10).”
1975 Quebec adopted its own Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. “Québec’s political system is both democratic and liberal. It is democratic inasmuch as political power is vested, in the last analysis, in the hands of the people, which delegates such power to representatives who exercise it on their behalf for a given period of time. Our democracy is thus representative,* but is also liberal in that individual rights and freedoms are deemed to be fundamental and are confirmed and protected by the State (GQ 2007:12).”
1977 Quebec adopted the Charter of the French language (Bill 101), stipulating that “French [is] the language of Government and the Law as well as the normal and everyday language of work, instruction, communication, commerce and business (GQ 2007:12).”
1981 “It is generally agreed that the main thrust of Québec’s integration policy was initially defined in 1981 in “Québécois—Each and Every One” which rejected federal multiculturalism* policy in favour of a policy of “cultural convergence.” “Québécois—Each and Every One” (action plan for the cultural communities), Québec, 1981, 78 pages. To our knowledge, this action plan dating from 1981 is the first government document to sanction the notion of a “cultural community (GQ 2007:14 footnote 23).”
1982 Canada incorporated a Canadian charter of rights and freedoms into the Constitution Act.
1985 “Although it is rarely formally spelled out in legislation, accommodation is deemed to be included in the right to equality that the charters recognize. It is a mechanism that the Supreme Court of Canada, which drew inspiration from a concept already recognized in the United States, sanctioned in 1985 in order to combat indirect discrimination,* which, following the application of an institutional norm* such as a statute, rule, regulation, contract, administrative decision or customary practice, infringes a citizen’s right to equality or freedom of religion (GQ 2007:8).”
1985 “March 20, 1985 resolution of the Québec National Assembly on recognition of the rights of the aboriginal peoples (GQ 2007:11).
1989 May 30, 1989 resolution of the Québec National Assembly on the recognition of the Malecite Nation (GQ 2007:11).
1990 “The Énoncé de politique en matière d’immigration et d’intégration was adopted which proposed the notion of a “moral contract*” that establishes, in a spirit of reciprocity, specific commitments by the host society and newcomers. The integration framework proposed adopts the basic principles mentioned earlier, i.e. Québec is a liberal democracy* in which French is the common public language, and specifies the nature of the desired relationship between the host society and immigrants (GQ
2007:14) The Énoncé stipulates that Québec is: • a society in which French is the common language of public life; • a democratic society that expects and encourages all citizens to participate and contribute; • a pluralistic society, open to extensive cultural contributions within the limits imposed by respect for basic democratic values and the need for intercommunity dialogue. Source: Au Québec pour vivre ensemble. Énoncé de politique en matière d’immigration et d’intégration, ministère des Communautés culturelles et de l’Immigration, 1990, page 15. (GQ 2007:14 footnote 24).
2007-01 The municipal council in the Mauricie town of Hérouxville adopted a code of conduct for immigrants in January. Seven of the region’s 10 towns moved quickly to support the list of rules. The Muslim Congress of Canada is considering a human rights complaint against the town.
2007-02-08 On February 8 “Québec Premier Jean Charest announced the establishment of the Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences in response to public discontent concerning reasonable accommodation (GQ 2007:5) [T] he current debate is taking place in a unique context of pluridenominationality (GQ 2007:6).”
2007 “Almost all Western nations are facing the same challenge, that of reviewing the major codes governing life together to accommodate ethnocultural differences while respecting rights (GQ 2007:5).”
2007-11-21 CBC. 2007. “Montreal immigrants fuel debate on accommodation.”
Keywords used in Consultation on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences
[A]ccommodation related to cultural differences [. . .] “is based on the principle of negotiation, whether or not it is formal, between two parties, usually an individual and an organization, the first of which claims to be the victim of discrimination. Such negotiation seeks to strike a balance between each party’s rights without imposing an undue burden on the party targeted by the complaint.” [A]ccommodation practices or arrangements fall under two largely overlapping spheres, the citizen (cooperation) sphere and the legal sphere (GQ 2007:5).”
GQ (Gouvernement du Québec). 2007. Accomodation and Differences: Seeking Common Ground: Quebecers Speak Out: Consultation Document: Dialogue Makes a Difference.
CC 2007 Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. “Democracy Renewed: Reasonable Accomodation and Differences.” >> Speechless. November 21.
Filed in democracy, heimlich, hospitality, religion and politics, Social History Timeline, Social Justice, Sociology
Tags: cultural racism, East/West, ethical topography of self and the Other, Google Docs & Spreadsheets, mass media, OECD, Other-I, Positive Presence of Absence, reasonable accomodation, self and identity, stranger, Taylor, Charles, unheimlich
September 14, 2007
For ten years (1990-2000) I had the most seductive job a visual artist could imagine as contract art educator at the National Gallery of Canada. The largest spaces in the gallery were devoted to the growing collection of contemporary art. So most educators included some contemporary art along with European, RCA, Group of Seven and modern art . . . in their survey tours of the collection. In the 1990s contemporary art was almost entirely postmodern and it was there in the early 1990s I experienced my own personal experience of the powers and limits of oppositional postmodernism (Altieri 1990). Perhaps I should have paid more attention that day to where the students were from. But they were an animated, interesting and interested group and the Hans Haake exhibition had just opened. I think it was Hans Haake’s (1983) controversial artwork Here is Alcan (Stephen Biko) (purchased by the National Gallery of Canada in 1983) that abruptly ended my tour. This image of Biko’s severely swollen battered face haunts the history of apartheid and adds weight to the Mandela’s honouring of those heroes like Biko who sought “to redeem the pledge to give a more human face to a society for centuries trampled upon by the jackboot of inhumanity (Mandela 1997). The professor who accompanied the group of CEGEP students from Jonquiere seemed to be personally insulted by Haake’s critique of Alcan and insisted his students leave the gallery immediately.
Yesterday was the thirtieth anniversay of Biko’s death in his prison cell in Pretoria, South Africa. Biko’s friend and biographer, British journalist Donald Woods’ gruesome postmortum photo of Biko was published around the globe resulting in such international indignation that the Security Council was forced to finally enforce the arms embargo they had instated in 1963. In 1994 Nelson Mandela acknowledged that the death of Biko was the first nail in the coffin of apartheid (Conchiglia 2007).
A decade ago Nelson Mandela unveiled the bronze statue of Stephen Bantu Biko by Naomi Jacobson as a contribution towards immortalising his life:
It also gives a certain kind of joy that the financial cost of creating the statue was footed by people in the creative field, including Denzel Washington, Kevin Kline and Richard Attenborough who will be remembered for the film on Biko, `Cry Freedom’. Another contributor is Peter Gabriel whose song `Biko’ helped keep the flame of anti-apartheid solidarity alive. This collaboration of British and American artists bears eloquent witness to Steve Biko’s internationalism (Mandela 1997).
Contemporary artist Jamelie Hassan (1987) reviewed Haake’s work,
Among the other works in this survey, Void Mean has the most visual and emotional impact — perhaps because it brings home Canada’s duplicity in tolerating Alcan’s involvement in the apartheid regime. It is in works like Void Mean that the full potency and immediacy of the issues reach us (and bravo to the National Gallery of Canada, who arranged for its loan during a moratorium on the loan of works from their collection so that Void Mean could be seen in the one Canadian gallery on the Haacke tour). Alcan’s corporate presence is appropriated from its promotional material and juxtaposed to two benign sepia images of a Montreal opera sponsored by Alcan. These images bracket a central, coloured, violent news photo of the dead Stephen Biko. In the accompanying text, Alcan’s involvement in South Africa is described: ‘The most important producer of aluminum sheet and the only fabricator of aluminum sheet in South Africa. From a non-white work force of 2,300 the company has trained eight skilled workers’ (translation from the French). To underline its source, the work is fabricated from aluminum storm windows: the top panels contain Alcan’s silver logo; the bottom panels, the images of the opera and Biko, to reinforce the reality of the violence perpetrated (Hassan 1987).
Altieri, C. 1990. “The Powers and the Limits of Oppositional Postmodernism.” American Literary History. 2: 443-481.
Bois, Yve-Alain; Crim, Douglas; Krauss, Rosalind; Haake, Hans. 1984. “A Conversation with Hans Haacke.” October. Vol. 30. Autumn: pp. 23-48.
Conchiglia, Augusta. 2007. “Steve Biko, la conscience noire.” Le monde diplomatique. September 12, 2007.
Hassan, Jamelie. 1987. “Hans Haacke at The Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, May 15 – June 21.” Vanguard, Vol. 16:4, Sept/Oct 1987.
Mandela, Nelson. 1997. “Address at 20th Anniversary of Steve Biko’s Death.” East London, 12 September 1997.
Creative Commons License 2.5 Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Stephen Bantu Biko (1940-1977) Thirty Years Later.” >> speechless
Filed in Memory Work, Social Justice, Visual Arts, postnational, Visual.Arts, forgetting, Power and everyday life, Social History Timeline
Tags: Consciousness, ethical topography of self and the Other, images, corporate social responsibility, Exhibitions, Films, human agency, unheimlich, moral mathematics, Hans Haake, National Gallery of Canada
July 16, 2007
Calgary-based senior economist at ATB Financial, Todd Hirsch comes to the unsettling conclusion that Albertans can enoy the boom as long as the chaos in the Middle East continues, global fossil fuel supplies remain insufficient and innovations in really inexpensive and accessible alternative energy sources are not found.
If the price of oil plummets to less than $50 US, the oil in the oil sands becomes too costly to extract. Hirsch lists the kinds of geopolitical, economic and scientific changes that would have to take place to make this happen.
Hirsch, Todd. 2007. “Alberta May Dodge the Bust Bullet this Time Around.” Comment. Globe and Mail. July 14. A19.
This photo was taken at 8:30 pm, July 14 from St. Andrew’s Park, Calgary,AB at the end of Toronto Street just above Crowsfoot Trail.
A timeline of boom and bust
1973 Global Oil Crisis. Alberta oil fuelled a financial boom that resulted in record-breaking population growth, housing starts, and construction activity (Hirsch 2007: A19).
1981- OPEC production was surpassed by that of other countries. Global energy supplies increased, energy prices collapsed and the US economy sagged. As oil prices collapsed, Calgary’s boom turned to a financial and real estate bust. Some overextened homeowners walked away from their mortgaged homes (Hirsch 2007: A19).
2007 Alberta is experiencing a financial boom with real-estate prices soaring, increased migration to the province and labour shortages (Hirsch 2007: A19).
Filed in Business & Finance, Economy & Finance, risk management, Risk Society, Social History Timeline, wealth disparities will intensify
Tags: East/West, energy, ethical topography of self and the Other, Google Docs & Spreadsheets, Green Calgary, moral mathematics