indigenous publishing

In this essay, I will examine how Indigenous Traditional Knowledge (TK) is not protected by Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) laws (specifically the Copyright Act), how Indigenous communities have begun using protocols as an interim protective measure, and why further changes to protect TK through federal legislation beyond protocols are still needed.

 

Through colonialism, European ideas of copyright and public domain were planted across what is now considered the Western world, while at the same time Indigenous ideas of community ownership were oppressed. Only in recent decades have steps been taken to balance worldviews, but there is still much work to do. As Gregory Younging points out in his book, Elements of Indigenous Style, “Neither common law nor international treaties place Indigenous customary law on equal footing with other sources of law. As a result, Traditional Knowledge (TK) is particularly vulnerable to continued misuse and appropriation without substantive legal protection” (Younging 2018, 158).

 

The problem arises in differing ideas of ownership, public domain, and time allowances. The ways in which TK is owned and shared in Indigenous communities is complex and situated in community ownership, oral storytelling, and passing knowledge down through generations (Coombe 2008, 258; Udy 2015). Meanwhile European constructs focus heavily on author’s rights (which by law extend 50 years after their death and then their work enters the public domain) and on tangible expressions of creativity. Given the fundamental differences in views, it becomes very difficult to find a solution that suits and honours both cultures, yet “new systems of protection need to be developed and implemented (that could both include, and work in conjunction with, Indigenous customary law” (Younging 2018, 163).

 

Although European regulatory regimes are much younger than Indigenous regimes, historical realities have subjugated Indigenous knowledge beneath European constructs (Younging 2018, 149). As such, Indigenous Peoples have had to either find ways to force TK to adapt to IPR, or have developed protocols that govern the use of TK as Younging suggests. I argue that neither of these solutions goes far enough in protecting TK. More must be done, and I will look at why this is and what some possible solutions are.

 

Communities have begun taking matters into their own hands by returning to tradition and implementing community protocols that everyone interacting with the community should follow. But although protocols can increase awareness of appropriate and responsible behaviour at the community level, in the eyes of the law they are simply guidelines and therefore are susceptible to vulnerabilities. In many cases, as Younging explains, “They are not made up counter to legal experience but are informed by and respond to formal legal failings or inadequacies” (Younging 2017, 182). They fill a loophole that the law has yet to recognize as a problem. And so protocols, and similar private law-making forms, like agreements, consents, and contracts, are left to rely on the people’s ability to self-govern (Younging 2017, 182). Research out of Australia by Indigenous lawyer Terri Janke, along with the multi-disciplinary Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage IPinCH project out of Simon Fraser University, have laid the groundwork for understanding how IPR and TK can coexist through protocols, but they are a starting place; a framework for future legislation. (Janke 1998, Christen 2015, Udy 2015, Gebru 2015, Younging 2017, 182).

 

In these young post-Truth and Reconciliation Commission years, Canadians are more aware of proper ethical behaviours surrounding Indigenous culture and are more responsive to community-developed protocols. In many cases, media scorn and societal pressure cause companies and individuals to rethink questionable products and service offerings that may be considered offensive. But there is always risk that Indigenous stories, medicines, and teachings put in the spotlight will next be put under the microscope, and consequently with greater awareness of Indigenous culture will come greater a potential for commercialization and appropriation. As IPinCH lawyer Vanessa Udy pointed out, “Differing circumstances (including knowledge, wealth, power and ability) render some people better able than others to exploit legal rights…There has been a marked absence of significant enforcement actions by Canadian Aboriginal groups largely due to the cost of registration and/or enforcement of intellectual property rights” (Udy 2015). Small communities already stretched for resources will be unable to fight big corporations in court, especially when the law is not on their side. Just as the Ford Motor Company completed a cost-benefit analysis and calculated that it would be cheaper to pay out injury claims than to fix Ford Pintos in 1977 (Dowie 1977), corporations’ morals tend to align with economic benefits. If it is cheaper to exploit TK and later settle with the Indigenous Peoples affected, then this is likely what corporations will do, as “many areas of traditional knowledge have potentially lucrative applications” (Simeone 2004).

 

In the publishing industry we have seen an increased interest in publishing Indigenous stories over the past few years, which aligns with an increase in grant money (such as the new Creating, Knowing and Sharing: The Arts and Cultures of First Nations Inuit and Metis Peoples grant administered by the Canada Council for the Arts). The publishing community has exploited TK for profit in the past (just look back less than a year to the Joseph Boyden scandal), and without something more binding than protocols it is likely to happen again (Andrew-Gee 2017). Indigenous Peoples should have first priority to benefit from TK, but without legislation TK is not protected from exploitation.

 

There are two main legal pathways lawmakers could take to begin to remedy this problem: firstly, they could empower Indigenous Peoples to write their own legislation and give protocols legal standing; or secondly, they could revise existing IPR law to cover TK. As Aman Gebru, a IPinCH lawyer and researcher, wrote, “There is a growing body of scholarship which argues that innovation and knowledge production does take place within traditional settings and that legal protection is required to conserve this valuable body of knowledge” (Gebru 2015, 2).

 

While the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action call upon all levels of government to adopt and build an action plan based on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), Canadian legislation has not yet been revised in accordance with the declaration. The UNDRIP framework says, “Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions…They also have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions” (UNDRIP 2007). UNDRIP is seen as the most comprehensive look at Indigenous Peoples’ rights, and as such there is pressure on the Canadian government to quicken the adoption of the declaration. “All they have done is talk about it and set up processes to engage in more talk about it, but they have not started the legal process of implementation,” said Ryerson University professor Dr. Pam Palmater in September 2017, more than a year after Canada announced it would adopt the UNDRIP (Morin 2017). If Canada is serious about adopting the declaration, then they must take actions—and not just make statements—to give Indigenous customary law equal status in the courts. To fully recognize and give legal stature to Indigenous customary law would give it equal footing with European law, and through that would be a big step in the right direction towards protecting TK and in returning power to Indigenous Peoples. However, since copyright is under federal jurisdiction, Canada would need to revise the Constitution Act to allow Indigenous communities (or even provinces and territories) to take their own action (Constitution Act). Alternative methods, such as sui generis legislation, have been suggested by the research community, but it is still unclear what this unique legislation would look like and how it would work (Udy 2015).

 

The second option is to integrate Indigenous customary law into current Canadian law. Canadian copyright is influenced by English, French, and American models (Bannerman 2013, Boyle 2008), and as such, it only makes sense that Canadian law also recognizes Indigenous models that existed long before the country itself did. “Indigenous legal rights and relationships were obscured under a heavy fog of Canadian federalism” (Burrows 2001, 10), and Indigenous Peoples should not have to resort to developing protocols as a legal framework while other countries’ laws are given precedence. This only further contributes to an imbalance in power and stature, giving Indigenous customary laws second-class status compared to Canadian common and statute law.

 

But as noted at the beginning of this paper, TK and IPR are based on fundamentally different values, and as such, it would be very complicated to merge the two (Coombe 2008, Younging 2018, Gebru 2015, Brown 2016). Extensive consultations would be required to make Canada’s current Copyright Act balanced to accommodate both Western and Indigenous cultures, and at the slow speed at which major changes like this tend to move it could be decades before TK is properly protected. Merle Alexander, an Indigenous lawyer, said, “Canada hasn’t been very receptive to opening up its intellectual property laws — I think they think it’s a floodgate argument — that if you open it for any specific review, all the issues that exist with IP law people would want changed” (Brown 2016). Due to the difficulties in finding a way to satisfy both Western and Indigenous worldviews regarding IPR, and the Canadian government’s lack of action to revise the Copyright Act, this second option is less favourable.

 

However Canada chooses to move forward, it is imperative that Indigenous Peoples are informed, included, and consulted throughout the decision-making process. As Janke said, “Indigenous people need to be informed about existing cultural heritage laws and how these impact on their Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights” (Janke 1998, XXV). Legislation, whether at the federal or community level, tends to be inaccessible to the majority of the public. For example in publishing, the Indigenous community may not be familiar with intellectual property law; while the publishing community may not understand Indigenous customary law, which has lead to the appropriation of sacred stories. This urgent need to write or revise copyright law to account for TK comes with an opportunity and a responsibility to create legislation that is accessible and inclusive for all.

 

Protocols are a step in the right direction when it comes to protecting TK, but legislation is needed if concrete change is going to happen. Without federally legislated change, either through devolution of power to Indigenous Peoples to take ownership for their own culture as called for in the UNDRIP, or without the Canadian government revising existing IPR laws, Indigenous TK is vulnerable to exploitation and appropriation. Steps towards greater recognition of Indigenous TK is good—but only if accompanied by the proper protections.

 

Bibliography

 

Andrew-Gee, Eric. “The making of Joseph Boyden.” The Globe and Mail. August 4, 2017. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/joseph-boyden/article35881215/.

 

Bannerman, Sara. 2013. The Struggle for Canadian Copyright: Imperialism to Internationalism, 1842-1971. Vancouver: UBC Press.

 

Bird, Hilary. “Indigenous culture not protected in Canadian law, lawyers and academics say.” CBC. May 31, 2017. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/indigenous-culture-not-protected-in-canadian-law-lawyers-and-academics-say-1.4138794.

 

Boyle, James. 2008. The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind. Yale University Press. http://www.thepublicdomain.org/.

 

Brown, Jennifer. “IP back to the future: Special Report: Intellectual Property.” Canadian Lawyer. June 6, 2016. http://www.canadianlawyermag.com/author/jennifer-brown/ip-back-to-the-future-3293/#tab_1.

 

Burrows, John. “Indian Agency: Forming First Nations Law in Canada. Political and Legal Anthropology Review 24: 9-24. DOI: 10.1525/pol.2001.24.2.1.

 

Canada. Constitution Act, 1982. s. 91

 

Canada. Copyright Act, 1985.

 

Canada Council for the Arts. “Creating, Knowing and Sharing: The Arts and Cultures of First Nations Inuit and Metis Peoples.” Grants. Accessed November 16, 2017. http://canadacouncil.ca/funding/grants/creating-knowing-sharing.

 

Christen, Kimberly. “Tribal Archives, Traditional Knowledge, and Local Contexts: Why the “s” Matters.” Journal of Western Archives, Special Issue Native American Archives 6.1: article 3. 2015. http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1046&context=westernarchives.

 

Coombe, Rosemary J. “First Nations Intangible Cultural Heritage Concerns: Prospects for Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Cultural Expression in International Law.” Protection of First Nations’ Cultural Heritage: Laws, Policy and Reform, edited by Catherine Bell & Robert Patterson, 247-277. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2009.

 

Dowie, Mark. “Pinto Madness.” Mother Jones. September/October 1977. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/1977/09/pinto-madness/.

 

Fontaine, Tim. “Canada officially adopts UN declaration on rights of Indigenous Peoples.” CBC. May 10, 2016. http://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/canada-adopting-implementing-un-rights-declaration-1.3575272.

 

Gebru, Aman K. “International Intellectual Property Law and the Protection of Traditional Knowledge: From Cultural Conversation to Knowledge Codification.” Asper Review of International Business and Trade Law, vol. XV. 2015. https://ssrn.com/abstract=2700537.

 

Janke, Terri. “Our Culture, Our Future: Report on Australian Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property Rights.” Prepared for Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. 1998. http://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/7bf9b4_2740d8cff7d24320b70f8a34015f9a53.pdf.

 

Morin, Brandi. “Where does Canada sit 10 years after the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?” CBC. September 13, 2017. http://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/where-does-canada-sit-10-years-after-undrip-1.4288480.

 

Udy, Vanessa. “The Appropriation of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage: Examining the Uses and Pitfalls of the Canadian Intellectual Property Regime.” Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage: Theory, Practice, Policy, Ethics. November 19, 2015. https://www.sfu.ca/ipinch/outputs/blog/canadian-intellectual-property-regime/#_ftnref68.

 

Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs. “Spirit of the Conference.” Protecting Knowledge: Traditional Resource Rights in the New Millennium held February 23-26, 2000. www.ubcic.bc.ca/files/pdf/spirit.pdf

 

United Nations. “United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” United Nations. March 2008.  http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/DRIPS_en.pdf.

 

Younging, Gregory. Elements of Indigenous Style: A Guide for Writing By and About Indigenous Peoples. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, Brush Education, 2018.

 

Zappalaglio, Andrea. “Traditional Knowledge: Emergence and History of the Concept at International Level.” December 13, 2013. http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2554132.

In 2015, the Canada Council for the Arts announced that its budget would be doubling over the next five years, and that a more streamlined, simplified selection of grants and awards would be replacing their old application system.[1] Within these new guidelines, a program known as Creating, Knowing, and Sharing (CKS) was unveiled—the Canada Council’s attempt at furthering the accessibility of government funding to indigenous organizations and peoples. Specifically, the program describes itself as supporting activities in 3 areas:

 

  • Creating provides support for research, production and creation of new works of art. 

  • Knowing provides support for the retention, maintenance, innovation and transmittal of cultural knowledge and creative practice.
  • Sharing provides support for the dissemination, exhibition, presentation and distribution of works of art by First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, which enrich and engage communities in Canada and abroad.

Any organization that falls under Category D of the program’s guidelines (Indigenous Publishers) is eligible for up to $100,000 in grants for short-term projects and $300,000 for long-term projects annually.[2] Previously, when an indigenous publisher wished to apply for funding, they would do so through block grants—grants that placed heavy restrictions on publishing houses with smaller revenues or smaller annual lists. Those block grants (now relabeled “Supporting Artistic Practice”) still benefit from a massive amount of funding (up to $250,000 a year), but unlike CKS, still require the publisher maintain an active list of at least four titles a year and have revenues exceeding $30,000 for each of the last 3 years, effectively restricting access to the fund for Canada’s smallest publishers.[3]

For Indigenous publishers in Canada, CKS could be good news, should it perform the way Canada Council has outlined. The program automatically restricts any publisher receiving core funding through another grant program from applying for more core funds from CKS, which should allow them to reach their intended beneficiaries and increase diversity in the Canadian publishing industry. In addition, Canada Council has provided an exception clause: “Some organizations may be unable to fulfill these eligibility criteria due to exceptional circumstances. The Creating, Knowing and Sharing Program Director may allow such organizations to apply, on a case-by-case basis. You must contact a Program Officer before applying.”[4]

As one example of how the former funding system excluded smaller publishers, Theytus Books, the oldest and most prominent Indigenous publisher in Canada, has only been approved for block grants through Canada Council once in its thirty-five year history. In 2012, it received a block grant of $28,900, in addition to grants for Aboriginal Peoples ($35,000) and Author Promotion Tours ($1,500). By contrast, a larger local BC publisher, Talon Books, who also publishes First Nations peoples, received a block grant of $115,800, as well as several Translation Grants worth $46,400.[5] That year, Theytus Books released 11 titles,[6] while Talon Books released 23.[7] Disregarding every grant other than the block grants (and any complicated formulas), each of Theytus’s titles received about $2,627 in funding from Canada Council, while Talon’s titles received about $5,034 in funding each.

Additionally, Theytus appears in the Canada Council’s recipient data for only four years (2009, 2010, 2012, and 2013*), while Talon Books has benefitted from Council grants consistently since 1998. For the Canadian publishing landscape, which must compete daily with U.S. publishing houses, every little bit helps, and the hurdles put in place by the previous block grants created something of a snowball effect for Indigenous presses, who must also compete against Canadian literary publishers, not only for visibility in the marketplace, but for funding that allows cultural enterprises (like Talon and Theytus) to continue existing.

In the case of Theytus Books, their lack of funding remains despite extensive lobbying on the part of Indigenous groups in Canada. Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, in her essay “We Think Differently,” notes the issue at the heart of Indigenous publishers’ funding problems: “To the best of my knowledge, Theytus Books is still the only Aboriginal publisher to receive block-grant funding through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program of the Department of Heritage. This is despite the sometimes intense lobbying by the Circle of Aboriginal Publishers/Aboriginal Book Publishers of Canada for assistance in establishing and maintaining an Aboriginal publishing industry in Canada. Among other activities, such an industry would require developing and training Indigenous editors, not only to work with these publishers but also to work with non-Indigenous publishers in the Canadian publishing industry, specifically with those who publish books by Indigenous authors and/or about Indigenous peoples, cultures, history, or knowledge. Despite these efforts, little has changed in the fifteen or so years since Indigenous publishers in Canada joined forces to lobby for understanding, support, and assistance. For all intents and purposes, Indigenous publishing in Canada remains isolated, underfunded, in many ways, excluded from the Canadian mainstream cultural marketplace, and under sometimes intense pressure to conform to imposed mainstream publishing values, aesthetics, and goals. That our own might be equally valid and valuable is continually challenged and denied.”[8] Why is that?

Indigenous Publishing: Too Niche?

One of the reasons typically cited for Indigenous (and indie) publishers’ lack of success in the market is that they are quite niche.[9] In this case, niche is more broadly meant as the genre of books a publisher carries and where they are sorted in a bookstore. While Theytus publishes a mixture of literary, genre, and nonfiction titles, it is the unfortunate categorization of “minority” literature that relegates hyphenated genres (Asian-/African-/Indian-/First Nations-/etc.) into an automatically restricted section of the catalogue, bookstore, or library. What this amounts to, whether by intention or not, is that most all of the books that Theytus Books prints will first be recognized or categorized as Indigenous literature, before the actual content inside is considered.

Contrary to the idea that labeling an Indigenous work as Indigenous will help a title reach its audience, the label may in fact limit the breadth of readership the title might otherwise enjoy. N. K. Jemisin, an African American author, notes on her blog that while these minority literature sections were originally created with the goal of increasing the amount of minority authors that were published (and therefore discoverable), they now exist more as a closed box, making it harder for authors placed in these sections to penetrate more standard (and commercially successful) genres. “…the AAF (African-American Fiction) section of today is mostly just a constricted, homogenizing ghetto. Writers stuck there — those who aren’t big enough to be cross-marketed — have lower earning potential, because it’s a lot harder to sell books when they’re marketed to 12% of the population than 100% of the population. Let’s not talk about how some black authors have been forced into this marketing classification against their will. […] Any bookstore or library which shelves my stuff in AAF has assumed that my work is automatically of interest to black readers — and only black readers — because I’m black. It further assumes that black readers don’t care about the book’s actual content; they’ll just read anything by a black author. Yet further this practice assumes that white readers are too xenophobic to consider reading a book written by someone of another race, so such books shouldn’t even be allowed into their sight.”[10]

In 1990, Theytus Book’s then-manager, Jeffrey Smith, told the Edmonton Journal “…there is a need for native material. The public is looking for it, and the mainstream presses are trying to find ways to provide [it]…”[11] At the time, Theytus had about 24 titles in print and its sales in West Germany that were better than their sales within the provinces themselves.[12] Smith noted that they had no shortage of submissions. “I’ve got proposals in here for about 55 projects, but the reality is we’ve only got the finances to do two or three a year.” The public’s hunger for First Nations stories didn’t go unnoticed. Over the next few decades, several other mainstream and mid-sized publishers (like Talon Books) would go on to add Indigenous works to their list—creating a new problem in the process.

A 2010 article in the Penticton Western News suggested that as a direct result of larger publishers taking up the call for more diverse books, separate publishing houses for aboriginal stories might not need to exist in the future. However, the article’s author, Heather Allen, also admitted “…it’s more likely that specialty publishing houses such as Theytus Books will always be needed, be successful and that they will remain popular with their select authors. Niche publishing houses are simply great places for groups of like-minded artists to produce and promote their work together.”[13]

In the case of Theytus Books, which is (and always has been) operated and owned by First Nations people, it (and other Indigenous presses) may also be one of the few places where the integrity of the work being produced is fully retained at all levels of production. However, since the industry’s labeling mechanism automatically limits the market of Indigenous works, in the past it has no doubt has made it difficult for publishers like Theytus to exceed the $30,000 in annual revenues that would have qualified them for block grants. With CKS funding, this restriction is thankfully removed, allowing Indigenous publishers the opportunity to gain the funding they need to organically expand their market while the industry adjusts to changing trends.

Quality Control

In an interview with Quill & Quire, Greg Young-Ing explained the difficulties involved in running an aboriginal press in a Westernized publishing industry. He described it as inflexible, especially in regard to less conspicuous cultural sensibilities, such as First Nations’ oral history traditions, which are not traditionally considered a part of the publishing environment.[14] Another difficulty happens during the editorial process, where traditionally an Indigenous author would be edited to conform within accepted English standards. No such editing occurs at Theytus, which strives to maintain the original aboriginal voice.[15] If the Canada Council jury takes these elements into account when reviewing the editorial integrity of a publisher is unclear, but they have revoked funding in the past to publications they felt were subpar.

On Spec, an Edmonton-based science fiction magazine, was surprised when the Canada Council rejected their application for funding in 2015. The Edmonton Journal reported that “…included in their comments, the Canada Council jury stated that On Spec’s quality of writing ‘remained low’ and noted typos as well as ‘poor production, design and layout quality.’”[16] Diane Walton, the managing editor of the magazine, refuted all of those claims to no avail. As of this writing, On Spec is now operating on a free WordPress website and relies on Patreon supporters and PayPal donations.

Based on the feedback the Canada Council gave On Spec, it might not be too outlandish to assume that Theytus Books struggled under similar restraints and expectations. As Akiwenzie-Damm noted, Indigenous publishers need editors who understand their unique experience, while helping them mold their works for a wider audience. A balance can certainly be struck, but without funding that effort becomes all the more difficult. CKS seems to alleviate some of the issues that have been plaguing Indigenous publishers in the past, but it is still too early to know how it will work in practice.

Consistency is Key

A final hurdle that smaller publishers have had to deal with in the past is the active list (four titles a year to remain eligible). In the case of ultra-niche publishers like Theytus Books, where funding is key, a bad year can mean putting your entire house out of the running for significant grants for three years (keeping in mind that publishing less than four titles makes it unlikely to break the $30,000 revenue baseline for block grants, which require a three-year constant).

With the new CKS funding model, which abandons this restriction for indigenous publishers, financial assistance becomes accessible. Between 2003–2004, Canada Council reported that aboriginal publishers across Canada had received roughly $206,000 in grant money, total. This was less than 2% of the total budget for publishers that year and less than half of the money provided as block grants. It is also only two-thirds of what is available under the new CKS model for each long-term project a publisher can apply for.

 

TABLE 1 – THE CANADA COUNCIL FOR THE ARTS – WRITING AND PUBLISHING PROGRAMS, 2003-2004
[17]
Grants to Aboriginal Publishers/Arts Organizations $206,000
Book Publishing Support – Block Grants $7,809,100
Book Publishing Support – Translation Grants $502,550
TOTAL – WRITING AND PUBLISHING PROGRAMS $16,732,739

All in all, what the Canada Council has released thus far for CKS seems pretty substantial. The Council claims to have spent a great deal of time listening to the leaders and organizations lobbying for change, and as part of their 2016-21 Strategic Plan, stated: “The Council will build on the direct and positive relationship it has fostered with Indigenous artists and organizations for over 20 years, and on the expertise of its staff and peer assessors with Indigenous heritage, to develop a culturally self-determined approach to a full range of customary and contemporary artistic and cultural practices by First Nations, Inuit and Métis artists and cultural professionals.”[18]

Same Old, Same Old?

As exciting as the new unveiling of the Canada Council budget has been, there are elements that should be observed with caution. To begin, in my researching for this essay, I came across the word “self-determined” several times in the Council’s descriptions of CKS, but it is largely unclear what they mean by this. If this means that the government will be relinquishing some of its control over what constitutes quality and worth in Indigenous publishing, than this is good, but it could just as easily go the other way. The Canadian government has a history of telling the Indigenous community what it can and should do, often with disastrous and long-lasting, traumatic results.[19] It will be up to the Canada Council jury to show that their approach to grant approval includes metrics for thoughtful inclusion and sanctity of the source.

As well, there are a few restrictions to the CKS funding model that Indigenous publishers will need to be aware of. While all of these can be found in the Application Limits document[20] on the CKS section of the Council’s website, there are few of note:

  • Publishers can only submit a maximum of 3 applications a year if they are also receiving core funding.
  • If a publisher is receiving core funding, that core funding counts as one of the applications for that year.
  • Long-term project proposals cannot overlap with each other and cannot be related to any short-term project that is also receiving funding.
  • Travel (max $30,000) and Small-Scale Activities (max $3,000) are limited (but are not included in the overriding limit) to 2 applications a year.

These restrictions, while not as complex or out of reach as prior funding models, may still create some trouble for publishers if they are unable to provide the jury with exceptional applications. For publishers that have consistently applied and been granted funding through Canada Council, the shift to a new model might not be as difficult as it will be for smaller organizations that are going to have to refamiliarize themselves with the application process. Whether Canada Council’s stated effort to improve relations and accessibility will pan out…remains to be seen.

 



* In 2013, Theytus received a small grant of $5,000 for Aboriginal projects, not block grants. –Ariel
[1] Canada Council for the Arts. 2016. Shaping a New Future: Strategic Plan 2016–21. 2–24.
[2] Canada Council for the Arts. 2017. Creating, Knowing, Sharing. 1–4.
[3] Canada Council for the Arts. 2017. Supporting Artistic Practice: Literary Publishers. 1–4.
[4] Canada Council for the Arts. 2017. Creating, Knowing, and Sharing: Indigenous Organizations. 1–8.
[5] Canada Council for the Arts. 2017. Open Data 2013–2016. http://canadacouncil.ca/research
[6] Theytus Books. 2012. Spring Catalogue 2012.
[7] Talon Books. 2012. Spring Catalogue 2012.
[8] Akiwenzie-Damm, Kateri. 2016. “‘We Think Differently. We Have a Different Understanding’: Editing Indigenous Texts as an Indigenous Editor.” In Editing as Cultural Practice in Canada. http://muse.jhu.edu.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/chapter/1893326.
[9] Siegler, Karl H. 1995. “Aboriginal Publishing as Niche Publishing within the Canadian Publishing Industry.” Canadian Journal of Communication, 20 (4). http://www.cjc-online.ca/index.php/journal/article/view/895/801.
[10] Jemisin, N. K. "Don’t Put My Book in the African American Section." Don’t Put My Book in the African American Section. | Epiphany 2.0. May 26, 2010. Accessed February 19, 2017. http://nkjemisin.com/2010/05/dont-put-my-book-in-the-african-american-section/.
[11] "Theytus Books: Native Material by Native Writers." 1990. Edmonton Journal, Mar 31, G4. http://proxy.lib.sfu.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/docview/250605571?accountid=13800.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Allen, Heather. 2010. "Publisher Gives Voice to Aboriginal Writers." Penticton Western News, Sep 23, 9. http://proxy.lib.sfu.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/docview/754398168?accountid=13800.
[14] Lahey, Anita. 2000. "The Unique Challenge of Theytus Books: Aboriginal House Combines Oral and Print Traditions." Quill & Quire 66 (5): 20. http://proxy.lib.sfu.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/docview/235632934?accountid=13800.
[15] Allen, Heather. 2010. "Publisher Gives Voice to Aboriginal Writers." Penticton Western News, Sep 23, 9. http://proxy.lib.sfu.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/docview/754398168?accountid=13800.
[16] Withey, Elizabeth. “Edmonton Sci-Fi Magazine Struggles After Losing Federal Grant.” Edmonton Journal. 2014. http://edmontonjournal.com/entertainment/books/edmonton-sci-fi-magazine-struggles-after-losing-federal-grant.
[17] Canada Council for the Arts. 2004. The Canada Council For The Arts - Writing And Publishing Programs, 2003-2004. http://canadacouncil.ca/research/research-library/2004/11/profiles-of-canada-council-funding.
[18] Canada. Canada Council for the Arts. Shaping a New Future: Strategic Plan 2016-21. 2016. 2-24.
[19] Milz, Sabine. 2009. "Aboriginal Publishing in Contemporary Canada: Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm and Kegedonce Press." Essays On Canadian Writing no. 84: 213-227. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed February 19, 2017).
[20] Canada. Canada Council for the Arts. Annual Application Limits. 2017. 1–4.