Unsettling Selfies ... Of the North

(Still from Dominic Gagnon's Of the North) Last Friday night I attended a clandestine screening of Dominic Gagnon's collage-film, Of the North. Clandestine because of all the controversy it stirred up last November at the Montreal International Documentary Festival. The film was condemned for allegedly perpetuating cultural stereotypes of the Inuit. Even people who hadn't seen it added their voices to the mounting public outcry against it. The most vocal opponent was Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq, who called Gagnon a racist and threatened legal action over the unauthorized use of her music in the film. The irony is that while Gagnon was taking the heat in Canada, the film was (and still is

Exposure Won't Pay the Rent

It is clear to us that the largest subsidy to the cultural life of Canada comes, not from governments, corporations or other patrons, but from the artists themselves through their unpaid or underpaid labor. — from the Applebaum / Hébert Federal Cultural Policy Review Committee (1982) Over three decades have passed since Louis Applebaum and Jacques Hébert reported on the deplorable economic status of artists. Their 1982 report was the first review of Canadian cultural institutions and federal cultural policy since the Massey Commission report of 1951, which directly facilitated the founding of the Canada Council. (This long neglect of a policy paper already speaks volumes to the neglect and d