‘Here We Go Again…’

Throughout Canada, Canadians of all backgrounds are encouraged to explore the many cultures that now make up the ‘Canadian mosaic’, and to not just celebrate their own culture but to try out other cultural traditions foreign to one’s own. Aboriginal people have, for the most part, eagerly embraced many aspects of other cultures, from clothing to music to movies to vehicles to guns to electricity to computers to… well, you get the picture.

However, when it comes to others using aspects of aboriginal culture, suddenly it is called ‘cultural appropriation’ and its use meant to be restricted – meaning that ‘permission’ is required. This blatant hypocrisy – with its xenophobic and racist overtones – needs to be called out… SayNO, 'Here We Go Again', 800x800‘Okanagan Indian Band says ‘Ogopogo’ children’s book ‘misappropriates’ culture’

“[The book] misappropriates our culture and our beliefs and our structures,”

said Chief Byron Louis in an interview with ‘CBC News’.

“Dorothy Hawes, a Victoria teacher and author, met with a representative from the Okanagan Indian Band before her book “Ogopogo Odyssey” was published.

“I grew up in Vernon, so the Ogopogo and the stories surrounding the mysterious lake creature are very much a part of my heritage. The Ogopogo itself is a Canadian icon (just as the Loch Ness monster is to Scotland) and the story of Chief Timbasket is in the public domain, so in meeting with the OKIB, my intention always was to show them courtesy and respect by letting them know about the book.”

“The book “Ogopogo Odyssey” tells the story of a young boy who has a chance sighting of the creature while visiting his grandparents in the Okanagan Valley, and meets a ‘First Nations’ woman who tells him an ‘indigenous’ story about the ‘N’ha-a-itk’, as it is referred to by ‘First Nations’.
“Chief Byron Louis confirmed that Hawes met with a person from the band’s ‘Territorial ‘Stewardship’ Division’ in February 2016, but he said Hawes was advised during that meeting that the Okanagan Indian Band did not support her book and did not want her to publish it.

“In an email statement to ‘CBC News’, Hawes denied that claim and said she was told the book was not offensive to the ‘First Nation’. She said the meeting allowed her to make changes to correct the “spelling for N’ha-a-itk and referencing of the Okanagan Syilx People.”

“Chief Louis also said that Hawes’ book incorporates cultural elements from other ‘First Nations’.

Chief Byron Louis, Okanagan (Photo -- sylix.org)
Chief Byron Louis, Okanagan (Photo–Contributed – sylix.org)

“He said some of the page borders are of Coast Salish design, the carvings in the book are Northwest Coastal carvings, and he said there are also elements from ‘indigenous’ communities in the southwestern U.S.

“Again if you are going to appropriate their designs, their culture, I think there’s a requirement to at least approach them and ask them because this is what those designs reflect. I mean, how many inaccuracies do you actually need before you start questioning the authenticity of the actual book?”

“Hawes said in her email to ‘CBC News’ that the ‘First Nations’ legend she was referring to in her book involves a person named Chief Timbasket, who she said she and the person she met with from the Okanagan Indian Band agreed was not a chief who came from that community.

“Given that Chief Timbasket is a visiting chief — there is no record of where he comes from — so potentially he could be from any other tribe in the province (or elsewhere)”, Hawes wrote.

“Chief Louis also said that Hawes should have approached his community earlier if she wanted to

“really respect and help us share our culture.”

“If you’re really serious about wanting to have people learn about a culture, you don’t come in there with a finished product. At that point, you are not serious about seeking to make sure that your book is authentic and everything is being followed. What you’re doing is you’re looking for some type of check in the list that says, ‘Yes, I’ve consulted.”

“Chief Louis said there are online guides to help people go through the process of consulting with ‘First Nations’, like the one on Simon Fraser University’s website and another available through the ‘First Nations’ Education Steering Committee’.

“Hawes said in her email that

“many other ‘non-‘indigenous’ people have written about this same myth many times.”

“At the very heart of this discussion should be the recognition that this is a children’s story meant to excite their imaginations through a fictional lens. It plays into all sorts of mythical ideas from pirates to mermaids and mysterious lake creatures”, she wrote…

“When asked how he responds to this book being a work of fiction, Chief Louis said the book adds to ‘ongoing stereotypes’ about ‘First Nations’ people and culture.

“But he said that they do encourage writers trying to learn about their culture and history.”

–‘Okanagan Indian Band says Ogopogo children’s book ‘misappropriates’ culture’,
Gavin Fisher, CBC News, May 30, 2016






Dorothy Hawes and Maggie Parr
Dorothy Hawes and Maggie Parr

“If it hadn’t been for a couple of “serendipitous” moments courtesy of St. Michael’s University School, English teacher Dorothy Hawes likely wouldn’t be celebrating the launch of her children’s book, “Ogopogo Odyssey”, this week.

“The roots of the story begin nearly a dozen years ago, when Dorothy attended a workshop led by children’s author Julie Lawson, put on by the ‘Senior School’s Book Lovers Club’.

“We were all looking for ideas of stories to write for kids and because I grew up in the Okanagan I was always interested in the Ogopogo,” Dorothy recalls. “It’s iconic for everyone living in the Okanagan Valley so I thought it’d be cool to write a story about it.”

“The result of the SMUS-hosted workshop was an early draft of “Ogopogo Odyssey”.

“Through a professional development opportunity at SMUS the following year, she travelled to a writing conference in California where she met artist Maggie Parr.

“I found out she was an illustrator, she handed me her business card that had this little caricature of a dragon on it. I thought, ‘Wow, that’s exactly the kind of caricature I have in mind for the Ogopogo,’” she says. “Had it not been for the professional development opportunity, I wouldn’t have had my serendipitous meeting with Maggie.”

“Maggie, an artist from Los Angeles, is a former ‘Disney Imagineering’ artist who now does freelance work for Disney, designing character portraits, as well as rides and buildings at some of the Disneyland parks around the world.

“Maggie drew a couple preliminary illustrations for ‘Ogopogo Odyssey’, and Dorothy attempted to find a publisher, but there were no bites.Do You Belive In The Ogopogo
“The story stayed shelved (for the most part) for the better part of a decade. Every so often, Dorothy would visit the Junior School to read the story and share some of Maggie’s early illustrations with the young students.

“It was a great exercise for the students. I would share the story and then they would usually go off and illustrate their own page of the story, or they would imagine what a particular scene looks like. It gave us an opportunity to talk about the whole idea of myth and story and how we as a culture — and particularly through our ‘First Nations’ — we are fascinated by storytelling,” Dorothy says.

{Actually, European, Asian and African cultures all have their own storytelling traditions…}

“A couple of years ago, Dorothy tried to resurrect ‘Ogopogo Odyssey’ and happened to find a publisher in Victoria-based ‘Promontory Press’.

“They were fascinated by having Maggie as my illustrator – having a Disney artist is a pretty big deal. But I hadn’t talked to Maggie in years and one of the first questions they asked was, ‘Would Maggie still do the art?’ Long story short, I reached out and she said ‘Sure!’” Dorothy recalls.

“This week, as Dorothy and Maggie launch the book (to be officially released on June 21), the pair went down to the Junior School to once again share the ‘Ogopogo Odyssey’ with a new generation of students.

“I think it’s neat, as a Senior School teacher, getting to do this. I love this kind of cross-campus interdisciplinary experience. We’re combining art, we’re combining story, we’re combing history, and we’re going across grade levels, too,” Dorothy says. “I hope the kids at the Junior School think it’s great that one of the teachers they might have at the Senior School writes stories for them.”

–‘Teacher Dorothy Hawes’ Children’s Book Comes Full Circle at SMUS’,
May 6, 2016

See also:

‘Clothing Police’ {July 24, 2014}:

‘Was Ist Los?’ (Germany) {November 9, 2014}:

”Pharrell Williams sorry for wearing ‘First Nation’ headdress’ {June 5, 2014}:

‘U of R cheerleaders’ cowboys-and-Indians photo’ {March 27, 2014}:
‘Offence is in the eye of the offended … or not’ (‘Fightin’ Whities’) {March 26, 2014}:

‘Chanel’ Attacked for the Inherent Racism of ‘Cultural Appropriation’ {December 16, 2013}:

‘Yum Yum Chips brings back its vintage cartoon aboriginal boy mascot’ (Kahnawake) {November 17, 2013}:

‘More ‘Cultural Appropriation’ Nonsense’ {November 3, 2013}:


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