Walrus editor Jonathan Kay resigns amid cultural appropriation controversy

Walrus editor Jonathan Kay resigns amid cultural appropriation controversy - image
Jonathan Kay / Twitter

TORONTO – The editor-in-chief of The Walrus 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.

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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.

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After Niedzviecki resigned, a number of prominent figures in Canadian media pledged money to an appropriation prize.

Several of those figures later apologized.

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Kay wrote in his column that he believes in open debate about issues like cultural appropriation.

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.

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“Perhaps all the sooner, thanks to this column,” he wrote.

Kay did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but posted on his publicly-visible personal Facebook account that he appreciates the support he’s received, and encouraged everyone to continue supporting The Walrus.

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