Editorials - Nov. 3, 2023
Where does she belong?
The Fifth Estate dropped a bombshell when it revealed a high probability that beloved Indigenous icon Buffy Sainte-Marie is not Indigenous and was actually born to the Italian-American parents who she claimed adopted her.
Social media was buzzing with shock, dismay, support and love for the music idol that has represented First Nations culture to the world for the past six decades. The Piapot family who adopted her into the Cree nation many years ago stand behind her, but it remains to be seen whether or not the Indigenous world at large can forgive her if she is indeed a “pretendian”. Other high profile examples like author Joseph Boyden, scholar Carrie Bourassa, filmmaker Michelle Latimer and former judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond have all involved people with no proven claim to an Indigenous ancestry who have gone on to have high-profile careers based on the identity that they had built.
Buffy’s case takes the issue to a whole new level, with her star status and accolades such as “first Indigenous person to win an Oscar”, and the numerous awards and honours she has won, including Junos and an Order of Canada.
Due to the secretive nature of the adoption process, the paper trail (or lack of one) leaves Buffy’s heritage ambiguous enough that everyone may have to decide for themselves if they continue to consider her a representative of First Nations people.
At the end of the day, it is not up to us to decide if Buffy Sainte-Marie is Indigenous or not. It is up to Indigenous people to decide if Buffy is their representative. – DS
Quit before you start
A recent announcement by an event planner cancelling a Christmas market that was to be held in Kitchener at Bingeman’s is a cautionary tale. The organizer had collected approximately $30,000 in deposits from 200 vendors in anticipation of the third annual event. Unfortunately, the organizer gambled away the deposits without paying the rental fee, leaving everyone out in the cold. Many vendors had spent untold amounts of money and much time preparing for the event.
Gambling addictions have profound effects on the gambler, their families and often the communities around them. We have seen sports organizations, businesses and service clubs lose money when a previously-trusted member suffers from the compulsive disorder.
In her statement, the event organizer said that she gambled it away a little at a time. She thought each time that she “borrowed” a hundred dollars from the kitty that she would get a big win, and be able to pay it all back. It’s an often repeated refrain. Few of the gamblers ever meant to steal and they always are sure that they will hit the big one.
Once upon a time, gambling was bingos and lottery tickets, which required at least a little thought and effort in which to participate. In modern times, it is just a click away and internet gambling is easy to hide from family and friends. No one goes to these sites the first time with an idea that they will get hooked. It’s a gradual descent into compulsion. In all the recent advancement around mental health and addiction awareness, gambling seems to be the poor cousin with little attention paid to it. – DS
Losing a ‘Friend’
Matthew Perry, a comedic actor with Canadian roots, passed away unexpectedly last weekend. News of his untimely death disseminated quickly across the internet with a speed that most have grown accustomed to when celebrities pass in the era of social media dominance. There are questions that remain surrounding the cause of his demise and those questions, predictably, contorted into rumours, assumptions and even jokes made in poor taste. There were also expressions of grief and sadness about the loss of a talented actor.
Perry was best known for portraying the character Chandler Bing on the 1990’s television ratings monster Friends, the pinnacle of TV’s three-camera situation comedy’s reign on entertaining the masses. When Friends aired on Thursday nights as part of NBC’s “Must See TV” lineup, families would gather around television sets to watch the show and laugh at its many hilarious jokes. The next day, schoolmates and office colleagues would discuss the episode’s highlights and build excitement for the next installment, which required waiting a full week because “binge-watching” was not how entertainment was consumed in those days. The show has remained popular with the advent of DVD sets and streaming services.
The venerable television institution Saturday Night Live (SNL) paid tribute to Perry, a former host, during their live broadcast on Saturday night. For anyone who avoided social media that day, it was a poignant way to learn about the death of a Friend. SNL is in its 49th season and as television struggles to remain relevant, rumours are circulating that next year could be its last.
Visionary Canadian media analyst Marshall McLuhan famously said, “The medium is the message.” This is a message of condolences. – SBS