Barbara Kay: Concordia's Liberal Arts College finds it's not immune to cancel culture - National Post - Canadanewsmedia
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Barbara Kay: Concordia's Liberal Arts College finds it's not immune to cancel culture – National Post

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Liberal Arts College is a tiny college housed in an old greystone nestled within Montreal’s bustling downtown Concordia University campus. I’ve praised LAC in the past as an alternative for students seeking a traditional education in the humanities, featuring what used to be a standard core curriculum in the Western canon. The program offers a journey through the Great Books, beginning with the Hebrew Bible, spanning Antiquity through the Middle Ages, Early Modern and Modern periods. The works of “dead white males” are not shunned as symbols of patriarchy and oppression, but read for their culturally formative ideas. Intellectually speaking, LAC offers the greatest possible diversity an open-minded student could ask, as well as rigorous training in critical thinking and writing skills.

LAC was to celebrate its 40th anniversary last May with a gala dinner following a commencement keynoted by longtime political philosopher Harvey Mansfield, Professor of Government at Harvard University, where he has worked since 1962. Mansfield was to speak on the relevance of Great Books in higher education (he is an acknowledged expert on Edmund Burke, Machiavelli and Tocqueville).  Instead, as reported by Inside Higher Ed, responding to protests by some feminist Concordia faculty and at least 12 alumni who felt Mansfield’s heterodox views on feminism disqualified him from spea king on any topic at all, principal Mark Russell disinvited him and “postponed” the gala. This past weekend, the 40th anniversary celebration took place, with “a panel discussion series featuring LAC alumni” instead of a keynote address.


Harvard Professor Harvey Mansfield

Wikipedia

Mansfield did not turn the other cheek. He wrote a scathing indictment of the decision for the Wall Street Journal. In it he mockingly parses Russell’s oleaginous cancellation letter, which told Mansfield that LAC had acted “precipitously” in inviting him, as “we were unable to reach consensus as to what we wanted to achieve with this event” and that LAC was “sorry for any inconvenience.” Thus, in Mansfield’s summation, “No disinvitation, no insult, hence no apology except for inconvenience. Also no broken promise, no suppression of free speech, and no violation of academic freedom. Mr. Russell and his college were guiltless and safe.”

He then moves on to decry “the notion that free speech is an expression of one’s power rather than a contribution to truth,” a view which “regards reason as nothing but an instrument of power with no power of its own.” In the 1950s, Sen. Joseph McCarthy demanded that universities exclude Communist professors, Mansfield recalls, but “I little thought that I would now in my old age be qualified for exclusion from Concordia University in our free neighbour to the north, not as the member of a conspiratorial organization serving an enemy power, but simply for holding opinions shared by half the American — and perhaps the Canadian — population.”

LAC co-founder and guiding force, history professor Fred Krantz, who had vigorously and formally disassociated himself from Mansfield’s cancellation, told me that he had received a slew of mail from alumni, with opinions running “10 to one” against the cancellation. He told Inside Higher Ed that as LAC had been “a community of scholars, dedicated to objective analysis and free and open discussion and debate,” he’d believed it would remain “immune to the wave of politically correct ideology sweeping many North American campuses.”

But LAC was not immune to cancel culture. So, most troubling for me in this affair is the fact that LAC did not default on its invitation in response to howling Twitter mobs or massive student protests. The “mob” in this case was reportedly highly educated, middle-aged and almost entirely schooled or teaching at LAC — therefore allegedly steeped in LAC principles.

The turncoats apparently absorbed political correctness by osmosis. Six of the eight faculty members at LAC voted for the cancellation, Krantz told me, and some alumni, discussing the incident on a closed Facebook page (dialogue provided to me by a Krantz ally), displayed a mindset one would expect from doctrinaire Berkeley progressives rather than graduates of a Great Books program dedicated to “the best which has been thought and said” in Western culture. One participant absurdly likened Mansfield’s dissidence on feminist dogmas to flat-Earthism.

There are only a handful of precious Great Book programs in Canada. The Mansfield fiasco demonstrates that none of them is immune to contagion from cancel culture. They must therefore double down on protecting their mission. A speaking invitation to Prof. Mansfield by one or more of them would serve as a fine statement of their unswerving commitment to diversity of opinion in an increasingly illiberal academic environment.

• Email: kaybarb@gmail.com | Twitter:

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Local man tries to keep 'Canada's original art' afloat (6 photos) – BarrieToday

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John Harrison wants to bring back what he views as a nearly forgotten art.

For the past eight years, the Orillia native has spent eight months a year living in the bush near Algonquin Provincial Park as he hones his skills at making traditional birch-bark canoes.

“The whole project has been about releasing a craft that’s been out of favour,” he said, noting that craft involves building canoes on the ground with three simple hand tools, sustainable harvesting and following a traditional process.

“I show my canoes and people are in amazement, but they often don’t see the art and this is the original (Canadian) art,” the 53-year-old said.

“It’s a really good project for arts, culture and history because it all ties in with that…Canadiana.”

Harrison, who has a fine arts’ university degree and is also an accomplished musician, is just finishing building 17- and 18-foot racing canoes and would now like to build a racing canoe side-wing as his next project.

“That original Canadian idea still hangs out in every canoe that you see today,” he said, noting he sold a 12-foot trapper canoe that’s now on display at Rama’s Bare Butts Smoke shop.

Harrison, who lives in a large tipi on the shores of Kimball Lake when not in the city, takes about three weeks to build a canoe.

“It takes a certain consistency of environment to produce the right tree,” Harrison said, noting he first uses a ladder to climb to an appropriate level before harvesting the bark from mature trees.

“You want 15- to 16-inch diameter (trunks) since with a tree like that you’re getting a quarter-inch of bark. I’m strictly doing a sustainable thing. I’m a surgeon when I’m on that tree and can get three canoes out of one tree. I pay homage to the tree.”

Harrison’s passion project has also led to displays, talks and workshops at Culture Days, Orillia Public Library, Rotary Club of Washago along with Cape Croker and Rama powwows.

As well, he teaches students at Rama’s Mnjikaning Kendaaswin Elementary School how to build a one-foot canoe and also wrote lesson plans for a canoe program.

“The last day, we had a regatta down the Black River. They had so much of a connection to what they built.”

But Harrison comes by his love of building Canada’s traditional watercraft honesty. His father Ron Harrison was a machine-shop teacher at Park Street Collegiate Institute from 1962 to 1995 and started the school’s Outward Bound program in the late 1960s.

“I was always around it; the essence, respect and joy of being in nature,” Harrison said, noting his father also helped students learn to build canoes.

“My father has built 86 canoes in cedar strip or fibreglass. I’ve built six, so I have a long way to go.”

Harrison has also been busy writing a collection of essays for an upcoming book entitled The Last Algonquin, which is a guide on how to build a traditional Canadian canoe that also features insights into life, Indigenous history and one’s place in nature.

“What technology utilizes birch bark’s water repellent nature, sewn in a blanket with spruce roots, structured internally with split cedar ribs, and sealed with spruce gum housing?” one essay excerpt asks before pointing out the canoe was created by combining three existing First Nations’ technologies found in other traditional items like snowshoes and toboggans “for travelling over frozen water.”

Harrison said he loves living in his tipi and being one with nature.

“I get so much peace and quiet for weeks at a time up at my site,” he said.

“I’m taught by nature and you renew your senses of sight, smell and sound. I get a better balance then when I was just living in the city.”

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Local man tries to keep 'Canada's original art' afloat (6 photos) – OrilliaMatters.Com

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John Harrison wants to bring back what he views as a nearly forgotten art.

For the past eight years, the Orillia native has spent eight months a year living in the bush near Algonquin Provincial Park as he hones his skills at making traditional birch-bark canoes.

“The whole project has been about releasing a craft that’s been out of favour,” he said, noting that craft involves building canoes on the ground with three simple hand tools, sustainable harvesting and following a traditional process.

“I show my canoes and people are in amazement, but they often don’t see the art and this is the original (Canadian) art,” the 53-year-old said.

“It’s a really good project for arts, culture and history because it all ties in with that…Canadiana.”

Harrison, who has a fine arts’ university degree and is also an accomplished musician, is just finishing building 17- and 18-foot racing canoes and would now like to build a racing canoe side-wing as his next project.

“That original Canadian idea still hangs out in every canoe that you see today,” he said, noting he sold a 12-foot trapper canoe that’s now on display at Rama’s Bare Butts Smoke shop.

Harrison, who lives in a large tipi on the shores of Kimball Lake when not in the city, takes about three weeks to build a canoe.

“It takes a certain consistency of environment to produce the right tree,” Harrison said, noting he first uses a ladder to climb to an appropriate level before harvesting the bark from mature trees.

“You want 15- to 16-inch diameter (trunks) since with a tree like that you’re getting a quarter-inch of bark. I’m strictly doing a sustainable thing. I’m a surgeon when I’m on that tree and can get three canoes out of one tree. I pay homage to the tree.”

Harrison’s passion project has also led to displays, talks and workshops at Culture Days, Orillia Public Library, Rotary Club of Washago along with Cape Croker and Rama powwows.

As well, he teaches students at Rama’s Mnjikaning Kendaaswin Elementary School how to build a one-foot canoe and also wrote lesson plans for a canoe program.

“The last day, we had a regatta down the Black River. They had so much of a connection to what they built.”

But Harrison comes by his love of building Canada’s traditional watercraft honesty. His father Ron Harrison was a machine-shop teacher at Park Street Collegiate Institute from 1962 to 1995 and started the school’s Outward Bound program in the late 1960s.

“I was always around it; the essence, respect and joy of being in nature,” Harrison said, noting his father also helped students learn to build canoes.

“My father has built 86 canoes in cedar strip or fibreglass. I’ve built six, so I have a long way to go.”

Harrison has also been busy writing a collection of essays for an upcoming book entitled The Last Algonquin, which is a guide on how to build a traditional Canadian canoe that also features insights into life, Indigenous history and one’s place in nature.

“What technology utilizes birch bark’s water repellent nature, sewn in a blanket with spruce roots, structured internally with split cedar ribs, and sealed with spruce gum housing?” one essay excerpt asks before pointing out the canoe was created by combining three existing First Nations’ technologies found in other traditional items like snowshoes and toboggans “for travelling over frozen water.”

Harrison said he loves living in his tipi and being one with nature.

“I get so much peace and quiet for weeks at a time up at my site,” he said.

“I’m taught by nature and you renew your senses of sight, smell and sound. I get a better balance then when I was just living in the city.”

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Nearly 80 incredible artists, one extraordinary Vancouver Island tree – Ladysmith Chronicle

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By Rick Stiebel

Robert Bateman’s art highlights his rare power to capture and release the essence and spirit of the natural world that surrounds us. 

OneTree 2019 is a partnership between the Bateman Foundation and Live Edge Design conceived in the spirit of sustainability and partnership that honours the life of a single, salvaged tree.

The exhibition features creations by more than 70 artists that have worked the wood from a 200-year-old Bigleaf maple from the Chemainus Valley into pieces that include art, jewelry, furniture and musical instruments. Art by Bateman — and for the first time in partnership with his son, John Bateman — is featured in 80 pieces by local artisans from Vancouver Island and California.

The tree at the root of their creations is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the world, with a history that spans two centuries. It rose on the land of the Halalt First Nation, nourished by water from the Chemainus River.

The tree towered by the home of Charles Edward Barkley, a captain in the British Navy. It stood guard in 1909 when Barkley, 80 years old at the time, ran back into his house as it was engulfed in flame to try and rescue the diary of his grandmother, Frances Hornby Trevor, the first woman to circumnavigate the earth. Although sadly, Barkley and the diary were never seen again, the Bigleaf maple endured for another century, until it began to rot from top to bottom.

READ ALSO: Experiences of Bosnia/Croatia veterans inspires pianist to compose suite

The three pillars of OneTree Project are to celebrate the life of a tree, to showcase the extraordinary talents of artists in B.C. and beyond, and to demonstrate the vast potential of the wood from a single salvaged tree, explained John Lore, president of Live Edge Design in a media release. OneTree 2019 includes the most artists ever involved in a OneTree project and involves the biggest and oldest tree ever used, he noted.

“The tree stood for two tumultuous centuries and had a most extraordinary life from a human perspective,” Lore wrote. “We are anxious to tell its story and let it live on through the many pieces created for this exhibit.”

Peter Ord, executive director of the Bateman Foundation, said “We are thrilled to be hosting the third edition of OneTree at the Bateman Foundation Gallery of Nature. It’s a beautiful and inspiring exhibit that speaks to our commitment to creativity, sustainability and the role the arts play in engaging the public with the beauty of nature.”

OneTree 2019 will be at the Bateman Foundation Gallery of Nature in Victoria’s Inner Harbour from Nov. 16 to Feb. 29,2020. The official public launch takes place Saturday, Nov. 16 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with admission by donation.

READ ALSO: Happy 50th: ‘Sesame Street’ characters talk favourite celebrity guests

Everything in the exhibition is available for purchase, and the Gallery of Nature gift shop will be stocked with pieces by artists participating in OneTree 2019. Commissions from sales support the operation of the gallery and the Bateman Foundation’s educational programs.

The Bateman Foundation is a national charity and one of the only non-profits in Canada primarily using artwork to promote a connection to nature. the Gallery of nature is a core initiative that hosts the largest collections of Bateman’s work. Visit batemanfoundation.org. for more information on Bateman and the foundation.

Live Edge Design creates custom furniture from locally salvaged trees. The drying, design, production and finishing is done in their workshop in Duncan. For a look at their work, check out liveedgedesign.com.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com

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