TORONTO — The editor-in-chief of a Canadian magazine has stepped down amid a contentious conversation about cultural appropriation in Canadian media and literature.
A representative from The Walrus says Jonathan Kay resigned on Saturday evening.
On Friday, Kay wrote an opinion piece in the National Post defending the right to debate cultural appropriation, when somebody takes an image or experience from a marginalized culture without permission, and claims it as their own.
I am so sick of @jonkay's sociopathic provocations (followed by cutesy back-pedalling.) What does it take for this hateful man to be fired?
— elaine corden (@elainecorden) May 12, 2017
— D.A. Lockhart (@WRiverLockhart) May 12, 2017
His piece was in response to backlash faced by Hal Niedzviecki, who resigned as editor of Write magazine and apologized for his article in the Writers' Union of Canada publication, after drawing ire for appearing to endorse the unauthorized use of indigenous knowledge and traditions.
After Niedzviecki resigned, a number of prominent figures in Canadian media pledged money to an appropriation prize.
Kay wrote in his column that he believes in open debate about issues like cultural appropriation.
— Ken Whyte (@KenWhyte3) May 12, 2017
@KenWhyte3 I'm in. $500 for freedom of thought and expression. Just me though, not Maclean's.
— Alison Uncles (@alisonuncles) May 12, 2017
But about Niedzviecki's resignation, he wrote, "the careers of editors-in-chief are brief and unpredictable,'' and he said he suspected he would eventually go the same way.
"Perhaps all the sooner, thanks to this column,'' he wrote.
In an email, Kay wrote that his reasons for leaving the magazine were "somewhat mundane'' — that his interests as an editor no longer aligned with the priorities of the organization that produces the magazine, the Walrus Foundation.
"It was my job to either respect that changing landscape or leave. I elected to leave."
"In recent years, the great success of Walrus Talks, which tend to feature a very different kind of content, have left their mark on the organization's list of priorities,'' he said of the lecture series that focuses on Canada's role in the world.
"It was my job to either respect that changing landscape or leave. I elected to leave. That's my decision, and I don't blame anyone for forcing me into it.''
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