I commend you for drawing attention to Canadian art in The New Age of Indian Art (Jan. 22). However, I question the necessity to dwell upon the drinking habits of native artists. The problems with alcohol in native Canadian culture are well-known and such attention does not help this cultural situation nor make it more understandable. Also, I wonder how you could have so easily passed over Del Ashkewe’s statement: “There is no such thing as Indian art, only Indian artists.” This comment raises the whole question of the position of the native artists in our country, a matter which deserves a good deal of attention. Why is art by Indians not considered art like the creations of
other Canadians, subject to criticism as art rather than or in addition to analysis as cultural artifact, displayed and purchased by art galleries, not merely museums, and generally dealt with like the visual art creations of the dominant culture? We could learn a good deal about ourselves, our relationships with and attitudes toward the native people by exploring such questions.
CAROLE H. CARPENTER, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, DIVISION OF HUMANITIES, YORK UNIVERSITY, DOWNSVIEW, ONT.
Glory be to the son
My defence of Maclean's to expatriate friends living in Florida suffered a great setback with the appearance of Only So Long His Father's Son (Feb. 12), on Douglas Bassett. Besides making Bassett sound like the nitwit heir-apparent, likening his eventual take-over of the Telegram Corp. to that of a greedy kid gourmandizing at the groaning table with his fat-cat friends is a disservice to Mr. Bassett. It is a wellknown fact that his father, John Bassett, is an unpopular figure with the media, but must the sins of the father be visited upon the son?
GEORGE GARDINER MCNEILLIE III, TORONTO
A little child shall lead them
The article on pedophilia in The Body Politic served its purpose as a focus of discussion. The acquittal of this tabloid is important not only to gay people, but to the concept of free discussion in Canada. However, your reportage in The
Boys in the Band Play On (Feb. 26) shows bias. These are not boys in a band, but men publishing one of the most influential gay papers in North America. Furthermore, to end the piece with a quote from Reverend Kenneth Campbell on the anguish of the children, in this, the Year of the Child, is particularly galling. The Year of the Child should be an assessment of the status and needs of children as they see themselves—not a continued imposition of adult views such as Campbell’s.
JOHN S. VOGEL, CALGARY
Vox pop vs. rep. by pop.
Your article The Latest Offer Quebec Can Refuse (Feb. 5) stated that the Task Force on Canadian Unity proposed that “Council of Federation” members “would be appointed by the provinces in line with the popular vote, but weighted in favor of smaller provinces.” According to my copy of the report, “the council should be composed of delegations representing the provincial governments ...” There is a great deal of difference between an upper chamber composed of delegations representing
provincial governments and one reflecting the popular vote received by political parties. The latter formula was used by the federal government in its proposal for a “House of the Federation” (Bill C-60) and was rejected by the task force because party interest, rather than regional, would likely predominate in a body so constituted. The task force also suggested that the council members be distributed among provinces roughly in accordance with their respective population. Perhaps you meant in line with the population rather than in line with the popular vote.
JANET CAMERON, HALIFAX
Subscribers’ Moving Notice
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The roots of the matter
In Rita Christopher’s review Bigger Is Just Not Better (Feb. 26) she concludes that Roots: The Next Generations is “neither good education nor good entertainment.” I don’t know whether the producers intended to entertain the viewers but they certainly have done much to educate North Americans about their own society. Obviously, Ms. Christopher feels that Roots should have ended with the black family riding off into the sunset to settle in Tennessee and live happily ever after. Surely, romanticism aside, the point of Roots II is to dramatize the continuity of oppression and racism which followed the blacks in the New World, the Civil War and emancipation notwithstanding, right up to the present.
G. LLEWELLYN WATSON, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND, CHARLOTTETOWN
And then there were nine
Barbara Amiel is to be congratulated on both the substance and form of her article on the Supreme Court, Nine Men in Search of Even-Handed Justice (Feb. 12). As she pointed out, there is very little publicity given to the activities of this body or the personalities involved. The article answered a number of questions that I had thought of but never made a serious effort to find answers.
HUGH L. KEENLEYSIDE, VICTORIA, B.C.
I was impressed with your insightful analysis of Nigeria’s sociopolitical and economic dilemmas in From Bloom to Gloom . . . (March 5). However, I was disappointed in your conclusion that Nigeria is a “country on the make that isn’t making it.” Politically, Nigeria is a country in the process of redefining its internal structure and future course (with full understanding of its history and heterogeneous culture).Economically, it is experiencing growing pains in coping with its new petro-dollar bounty in face of rampant maldistribution of wealth. Socially and culturally, the problem is evolving a correct mix of traditional values with those of a continually changing 20th century. While your implied prediction that true democracy would not emerge in Nigeria is somewhat premature, you deserve credit for directing attention to a country whose fate may well have greater effect on the international economic picture than is usually recognized.
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