Cultural appropriation is one topic you do not take lightly. Much to his ire, Hal Niedzviecki, Editor-in-Chief at the Write Magazine, learnt this the hard way. His voicing an opinion on the subject led to a massively successful crowdfunding campaign for Indigenous writers.
The infamous campaign all started because of an editorial titled, “Winning the Appropriation Prize,” where Niedzviecki invited readers to “write what they don’t know,” and offered readers the “Appropriation Prize” for their best work. Public outrage, especially from the Indigenous community, soon followed, in addition to Niedzviecki resigning from his position at the magazine.
There is a silver lining to this story, though.
Toronto lawyer, Robin Parker was so deeply affected by Niedzviecki’s article that she decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign for a Canadian literary award to support the efforts of Indigenous writers. She received an insurmountable wave of support from the Canadian Literary community by exceeding the initial goal of $10,000 (and still growing!).
When the campaign was initially launched, they received an anonymous $1000 donation and soon tripled the goal of $10,000 only two days later. Other popular names who came out in open support of the campaign included Jesse Wente, TIFF programmer and CBC film and pop culture critic, Tanya Tagaq, Inuit throat singer, and members of the CanLit establishment including Heather O’Neill, Camilla Gibb and Michael Redhill.
The instant success of this crowdfunding campaign is almost akin to the crowdfunding success of Kickstarter’s Pebble E-Paper Watch. As one of the first affordable smart watches on the market, the product raised $10,266,845 in only 37 days.
Granted, the campaign was an enormous success, but what does it mean for Canadian businesses? First, this story shows how charitable work and community outreach can work in favour of a business. Spreading the word about a noteworthy cause can bring in a lot of support from surrounding businesses that you may not have otherwise been in touch with. Second, the exposure gained from supporting various charities can be instrumental in obtaining business with other clients in the community. And lastly, launching crowdfunding campaigns could prove to be an effective outreach program for companies looking to start an initiative similar to this one.
The impact on emerging Indigenous youth is empowering. The amount of people who have come on board to support this cause will not only encourage more Indigenous youth to pursue an education in writing and arts, it will also help others learn more about the Indigenous culture.
Aileen Ormoc | The Edge Blog