On Appropriation


Dear Paddling Magazine Editorial Team:

Back in May of this year, the CanLit community exploded over an opinion piece that appeared in The Writers’ Union of Canada magazine about “winning the appropriation prize.” I’ll link to a story or two below, in case you missed it and you want to read about it.

Why do I bring this up?

Because your Fall Issue arrived in my mailbox today and I was asked my opinion about James Raffan‘s piece “Canoeing Couture: Timeless Summer Fashion for Wild Women on the Move”.

It reeks of someone trying to win the appropriation prize – albeit for gender rather than culture. You even allude to it in your trademark, quirky author’s bio at the end of the essay.

You see, in 2017, we outdoorswomen don’t need men making “clever” suggestions about our choices in backcountry clothing. We’ve endured decades of it. Outside Magazine acknowledged this, this year and made strides to fix it. It’s your turn.

In the right hands, this piece – written by one of your former female editors or any number of fiercely funny and creative women outdoors writers – could have hit its mark. Instead, I wanted to stop reading after the second paragraph and throw out the magazine.

You are a leading voice in the paddling industry in North America along with your partners Paddle Canada and American Canoe Association. I know you can do better than this.

Kate Ming-Sun
Canoe guide and college educator of outdoor adventure students

P.S. It was Katharine Hepburn in African Queen, not Audrey Hepburn.


Links to the cultural appropriation discussion include:


And older discussions (thanks to Joseph Boyden’s issues):



Published by Kate Monahan

Travel happy. Outdoors professional. Writer. Photographer. Educator.

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