Writers’ Union sorry for cultural appropriation article

TORONTO — The Writers’ Union of Canada apologized Wednesday for an opinion article in the latest issue of its quarterly magazine advocating for more cultural appropriation in Canadian literature.

In the article, novelist and Write magazine editor Hal Niedzviecki writes that he doesn’t “believe in cultural appropriation.”

He goes on to say he thinks “anyone, anywhere, should be encouraged to imagine other peoples, other cultures, other identities,” and suggests there should be an Appropriation Prize in literature.

According to the Oxford Reference website, cultural appropriation involves “the taking over of creative or artistic forms, themes, or practices by one cultural group from another.”

Some of the other contributors to the magazine took to Twitter to express outrage, noting their articles in the issue were against cultural appropriation.

They also noted the magazine issue featured indigenous writers.

In a statement, the Writers’ Union of Canada said it “deeply regrets the pain and offence caused by” the article, and noted Niedzviecki has resigned from his position.

“The (article) offended and hurt readers, contributors to the magazine and members of the editorial board,” said the union, noting the magazine is intended “to offer space for honest and challenging discussion and to be sincerely encouraging to all voices.”

“The union recognizes that intention is not enough, and that we failed in execution in this instance. We remain dedicated to honouring the very hard work we have set ourselves, and to taking responsibility for systemic wrongs in which we as an institution with a place in helping to define Canadian culture have participated.”

Alicia Elliott drew attention to the article on Tuesday with a series of posts on Twitter.

“I can’t even begin to describe the anger I’m feeling right now. I’m literally shaking. My essay is about cultural appropriation,” she tweeted.

Fellow contributor Joshua Whitehead added: “I can’t get over how in my piece I called out appropriation and settler expectations in CanLit publications and performances (including TWUC calling their community a ‘tribe’ on their website) and yet they still published this.”

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