e107 harm – what do you not know?

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(bell and breath)

Today’s episode does not have any sound other than my voice and a series of silences.  And I think you’ll understand why in a minute.


Writer and broadcaster Jesse Wente, author of Unreconciled, became the first indigenous person to chair the Canada Council for the Arts during the summer of 2020, a few weeks before I retired from the Council. 


In an August 6, 2020 interview with the Toronto Star, I was deeply moved by what Jesse said. 

The way I view work now within colonial structures and institutions is harm reduction. Ultimately, the goal for me is to reduce the harm the Canada Council causes, not just to my community but to any community that suffers under colonialism, which is really all of us on some level, and to make it somewhat easier to exist, work, live and participate.


I invite you to think about this statement. In fact, I invite you to explore your feelings about this statement. 


Jesse goes on in that same Toronto Star interview to say :

What does the new world look like? How do we support that? How will we be nimble enough to be comfortable not knowing and yet developing policy around not knowing? With artists and the cultural sector, even though we’ll be among the last to restart, I think we have a fairly significant role to play in helping to define what recovery and restoration look like.


Now I could not find a sound in our modern world to respectfully accompany Jesse’s words and his questions. 


The only sound, or absence of sound, so to speak, that made sense to me was silence. 


Jesse asks us to think about what the role of the arts sector in helping to define what recovery and restoration look like, and if I may add, what it might sound like. 


Jesse also invites us to imagine what a new world might look, or sound like.


My question for you is ‘What do you not know?’


I would like to thank Jesse Wente for his kind permission to use his quotations from this interview in this context. Thanks also to the article authors Karen Fricker and Carly Maga and the Toronto Star and the Canada Council for the Arts.

I am grateful and accountable to the earth and the human labour that provided me with the privilege of producing this episode. (including all the toxic materials and extractive processes behind the computers, recorders, transportation and infrastructure that make this podcast possible).

My gesture of reciprocity for this episode is a donation to the Anishnawbe Health Foundation





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Responses to “e107 harm – what do you not know?”

  1. Blaine Dunaway Avatar

    I strongly admire this whole approach to rebirthing the arts in Canada. It has been a lifelong trial for me to survive as a creative musician in Canada. Why should it have to be so hard? Well start with the media, and with the general education system that has systematically hobbled intelligent music to foster the bottom line with intelligent lyrics coupled with correct but mostly uninspired and uninspiring music content.This makes the hard work required to engender brilliance, a waste of time for most musicians. I’m sure there is a similar story in all art disciplines.

    1. Claude Schryer Avatar

      Hi Blaine

      Thanks for your comment. ‘Rebirthing the arts’ (also rethinking our assumptions about what is art) is a topic that will come back in this podcast. I think Jesse Wente is questioning harm reduction ‘within colonial structures and institutions’ but also the role of the arts ‘to play in helping to define what recovery and restoration look like’.

      I appreciate your point about surviving as a creative artist in Canada. My point with this podcast is about how we can survive as a species on earth and the role artists can (must) play to address the underlying causes of the ecological crisis and repose a new vision. There are many musicians working on this including https://www.musicdeclares.net/ca/en/.

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