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C is For Canadian Content

I moved from Canada to the US in 1985, when I was 17.  It was like Canada vanished the minute I crossed the border, with all the books by Canadian authors, and music by Canadian singers, and art by Canadian artists not even registering, a cloak of invisibility.  This is ironic, because Canadians had a hard enough time getting recognition in Canada if they hadn't yet had a hit in the US–thus Neil Young, Margaret Atwood, and The Band. 

But there were Canadian Content(Cancon)rules that were enacted when I was in school, where broadcasters had to play a certain percentage of Canadian artists, and somehow among the Guess Who and April Wine, I heard artists like k.d. lang, and Jane Siberry.  I remember reading an essay by the Canadian writer Robertson Davies about Canada's "inferiority complex" and it resonated very much with my 16 year old self, and my own search to find people outside of myself to affirm who I was, much as Canadians went to the US to gain credibility.  Moving to the US was a shock, since a lack of confidence was not a US problem. 

Canadian Broadcasters claimed there wasn't any talent in Canada, and that's why they played only US artists on Canadian stations.  Sometimes, even past adolescence, we assume we have no talent, when in fact no one has given us a chance.  How much of your own soul's content is in your own self?  Sometimes I assume if it came from me, how could it be good?  But I've met enough people who have the same thought to recognize that this is a corrosive belief, and that affirming what makes us "ourselves" is the root of our talent.


Over at Stratoz:

C is for Chiral Molecules


  1. Cindy says:

    It’s interesting because it often seems like no matter where I live or visit people think their town’s art scene/music scene/insert other kind of scene is sub par compared to elsewhere, but then when you go elsewhere you often hear the same sentiments.
    The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, folks 🙂

  2. Dude, you don’t think April Wine is a talented crew?? But seriously, yes, I’m still amazed when people say “oh, did you know that person is Canadian?” and I usually don’t–some sort of stealth infiltration into the US.

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