Friday, April 02, 2010

What is Canadian identity?

Living as a white artist on Manitoulin, one of native North America's most sacred places, is problematic. I live in the middle of a rich culture, yet it is not my culture. What is Canadian identity?

I like to think of the cement houses on Manitoulin as if they were pioneer women who looked at the lake.
the brown motherly furrows
the whole estate
we walk on air
there is only the moon, embalmed in phosphorous
there is only a crow in a tree
make notes

Sylvia Plath

5 comments:

La Dolce Vita said...

I hear this from my friends who live in Taos, too. there is quite a separation there as well.

Velma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phyllis said...

Sylvia Plath seems to say things in the most elemental yet delicate manner. Perhaps this is why your art is so rich and resonates with this kind of depth. Sacred places seem to melt into our existence and give us a reason to be there, a sort of other-worldly spirit that communicates in ways that cannot be seen until we express them via art.

A mermaid in the attic said...

As a white Australian, I feel this quite acutely too. There is an immensely rich and incredibly ancient Australian culture, but I'm not part of it, I'm not the inheritor of it, and sometimes I wonder what my place is in this ancient land. My people came as conquerors and 'civilizers' too, and sometimes I feel that we haven't been here long enough, or made peace with it and its people well enough, to be accepted by this land. Much of my culture is transplanted from Britain and Europe, and so it doesn't quite fit, and I don't belong there either. Sometimes I feel a little lost.

C said...

What a fantastic post, Judy. Very thought provoking.

I've got to say that I've always loved Sylvia Plath.

P.S. I've always meant to stop by the side of the highway to photograph that house! I've always found it so interesting. Many of the houses (or remains of houses) look like that hold so many stories within their walls. The skeletons and shells of some old farm houses always catch my eye.