Monday, November 17, 2014

Reader's Diary #1089- Laura Legge: Tukisiviit?

I have to admit, I got preoccupied with politics and ethics while reading Laura Legge's "Tukisiviit?"
Written by a white woman but told from the point of view of an Inuk teenager, I'm not the first to question if this was appropriate. (Unlike the commenters on the story on the CBC page on which the story appears, however, I haven't made up my mind about it one way or the other yet.) My reluctancy with accepting Legge's story probably had something to do with reading (coincidentally) this story about indigenous appropriation just beforehand. However, I also reminded myself that when you tell fiction, you automatically assume the perspective of someone else. But does that mean anything goes? Can a white woman tell the story of a Inuk? Can a woman tell the story of a child? Can a man tell a woman's story? An American tell a Canadian's? An Anglophone a Francophone's? A person without disabilities tell the story of a person with disabilities? Lots of gray areas here and I'm sure to some extent it depends on the sensitivity and believability of how it's told.

I didn't buy Legge's perspective, offensive or not. The story of an Inuk who watches his geography teacher get humiliated in a professional wrestling ring, it begins, "We hated him for three reasons. His chained dog. His refusal to learn Inuktitut. And his noisy and conceited notion that he was helping us."

First off, there are enough Inuit who chain up their dogs that hating their geography teacher for doing so is very unlikely. As for the refusing to learn Inuktitut and the rest, Legge has reduced both northern student and teacher to complete cliches.

The introduction of pro-wrestling in the story was a welcome and unexpected detail, but not, unfortunately enough to rescue the story from its lack of authenticity.

Lack of authenticity? Now that I think of it, pro-wrestling fits the story perfectly.

End of the Chain by Sans Peur, on Flickr

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License
   by  Sans Peur 

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