You Talk Like This, and People will Walk Away Slowly


A Canadian English professor says that because canoers are generally white men, the boats are a symbol of ‘colonialism, imperialism and genocide.’

Misao Dean, who teaches at the University of Victoria, made her remarks during an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

“Certainly the majority of wilderness canoers are people who have a very privileged place in society,” she said. “They’re frequently highly educated people. They’re almost completely white.”

Jeez Misao, you teach kids with that mouth? (Image via FacesOfUVicResearch)

“We have a whole set of narratives that make the canoe into something that seems ordinary,” she also stated. “But I think if you look a little further that narrative obscures or erases another narrative – and that narrative is about, to be blunt, it’s about theft and genocide.”

I trusted the source, but extraordinary stupid requires extraordinary investigation.  Or at least another snippet from an article.  The CBC Radio article makes it clear that Dr. Dean is not just weaving off course into topics she has never thought about:
Dean is the author of the book Inheriting a Canoe Paddle: The Canoe in Discourses of English-Canadian Nationalism. In this interview, Dean asks us to consider the canoe, and what it really represents in Canadian society, and whose symbol it is. To Dean, the story Canadians tell themselves about the canoe is one of European colonialism, while ignoring the role the canoe played in displacing and harming indigenous people.
Now, I’m just a radio guy, blogger, teacher and Presidential Historian, but I have to jump in here.   A canoe — like the good professor here — can be considered  a tool.  It makes travel over smooth water swift and relatively safe.
Canoe at waterhole 1
It’s not something which holds a “narrative” just because white folks love to splash around in them.  I’m sure lots of canoes were used in the battle over North America, and as it turns out (or ouwt, if you are Canadian) the Native Americans lost that battle.  I woulda thought folks would be over that by now.
The narrative that matters is how we treat each other.  Great-great granpa might have rowed out to ambush the folks who were here first, but I’m not going to consider my trips through the Adirondack lakes anything other than fun.
Travel tips: Bring bug spray, suntan lotion, water and if you’re a big guy like me, sit in the middle.  On the floor if you can.  
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4 Responses to You Talk Like This, and People will Walk Away Slowly

  1. Mrs. Whatsit says:

    I wonder what she thinks about plastic kayaks sold at Walmart.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Paul Krendler says:

    She seems like she herself could be classified as a particular type of canoe, one which rhymes with “whoosh.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The endemic problem with academia is that every professor must publish, and no one can really publish without a fresh — sometimes odd — perspective. She wrote a whole book on canoes as cultural icons in Canada, and came to the conclusion that people in canoes are rich, white guys who are the ancestors of imperial colonizers. Dang. Put a boat in the water and enjoy the day.


  4. Tomblvd says:

    I always knew Eric was evil.


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