Author: Hal Niedzviecki

Neglecting At-Risk Children in the Name of Cultural Sensitivity

It started three years ago: a troubling case for a veteran mental-health professional that involved a young girl with serious health issues and a history of severe trauma. There were a multitude of protection concerns, including the girl’s low functionality, well below her chronological age. She was the equivalent of a five-year-old, but with the appearance of a young teen—a dangerous combination. A succession of partners to her single parent came in and out of her life. She was often the displaced target of their hostility, meant for a partner who was often absent. A string of child protection workers were involved, each less invested in her case than the one before. Phone calls and letters were directed to Toronto’s Children’s Aid Society (CAS), urging that the girl no longer be left at home for hours on end, or allowed to leave the house mid-winter without a hat, coat, or gloves. It was reported that many nights, the girl was making her own supper, and putting herself to bed; or left in the care of …

The Mob That Came After Me Is Turning on Itself. When Will This End? Who Does This Help?

I am in my third year of excommunication from Canadian culture. In the spring of 2017, I wrote a magazine article that my accusers claimed had flippantly dismissed the concept of cultural appropriation—a serious thoughtcrime. My lead accuser was writer and activist Alicia Elliott, though the narrative was quickly picked up by many others. Suddenly, I no longer received invitations to write articles, speak, teach, or publish. I’d been cancelled, and barely anyone said a public word in my defence. My 25 years of work supporting independent voices in the arts was erased in an instant. So be it. I now see this same vicious mob spirit re-emerging on a larger cultural scale. And with the stakes higher than ever, I feel compelled to speak up. The climate of fear and censorship has become so endemic to the arts and media in North America that staying silent at this point would feel like an act of capitulation—even if, as my own experience shows, it would be the prudent path. If we don’t speak now, what …