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Writers’ Union of Canada faces resignations over editor’s note on the cultural “Appropriation Prize”

An opinion piece in the spring 2017 issue of Write, the Writers’ Union of Canada members’ publication, has resulted in the resignation of its editor and a board member.

The issue spotlights work by several Indigenous authors, including Alicia Elliott, Joshua Whitehead, Shannon Webb-Campbell, and Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm. In an accompanying opinion piece, Write editor Hal Niedzviecki says, “I don’t believe in cultural appropriation. In my opinion, anyone, anywhere, should be encouraged to imagine other peoples, other cultures, other identities. I’d go so far as to say there should even be an award for doing so – the Appropriation Prize for best book by an author who writes about people who aren’t even remotely like her or him.”

TWUC has issued a statement “unequivocally” apologizing for the editor’s note, acknowledging that Niedzviecki’s words “offended and hurt readers, contributors to the magazine and members of the editorial board.” That statement also indicated that Niedzviecki has resigned as editor. TWUC board member Nikki Reimer also resigned over the controversy. In a note on her website, Reimer apologizes for not having reviewed the issue prior to going to print.