Comics / Spotlight

The Wright Awards Discriminate Against Canadians

By Hervé St-Louis
August 11, 2008 - 22:22

Awards Logo and Design by Alan Hunt
While the top news concerning the 2008 Wrights Awards is about the comic book creators who received, prizes on August 8, 2008, the main news as far as The Comic Book Bin is concerned, is the refusal of the Wright Awards to consider Canadian original comic books published in French. In the view of the Comic Book Bin, the refusal of the Wright Awards’ to consider French language works makes us challenge their legitimacy as a Canadian comic book award.

The Giants of the North organization, created the Wright Awards in 2005. The awards are named after cartoonist Doug Wright who created several comic strips published in various newspapers between 1948 and 1980. One of the regulations of the Wright Awards is that they will only consider Canadian comic books published in English. They accept pantomime comic books (shut up and be beautiful) and French works translated into English.

 A few notes first. I do not use the word French Canadian to describe French speaking Canadians. Hyphenated people are half people. I refer to myself and other French speaking Canadian as a Canadien, which is French for Canadian.

Canada is a bilingual country. French and English are equal in law. While many English speakers would like to erase part of Canadian history, assimilate all Canadiens or just contain them to the French speaking province of Quebec, there are Canadiens in all cities and all regions of Canada. Canadiens founded many Canadian and American cities. Toronto, Calgary, Detroit, St.Louis, were all founded by Canadiens. Canada, although we like to ignore Native people, was a pact made by French and English settlers.

Here’s an example of how the policy of the Wright Awards to exclude original comic books made in French works. If the Harvey Awards, were to refuse all comic books by blacks or women, until they bleached their skin white or undergo hormone therapy to change their gender, it would be clear to everybody that their policy and the support of those awards was morally wrong.

In the world of Canadian comic books, the lack of sensitivity and that latent will to discredit the French identity of this country are alive and thriving. When the people of the Doug Wright Awards speak to the media, nominate creators, award hall of fame status to creators, they do so with the full knowledge that they are rejecting a quarter of all Canadians whose language is French and a half of all original comic books published in Canada.

You see, a dirty secret of Canada, is that Canadiens produce as much cultural works as their English counterparts, if not more in many cases. Canadiens support the cultural output of their creators. In the comic book world, many series that have been reviewed and covered by other news sites were labelled as European comic books, although Canadiens made them here, in Canada.

Were the Wright labelled as English Canadian Awards – they would best represent what they are. But I found no specific mention that the awards were strictly for English Canadians, although they are in practice.

An English Canadian award is not national in scope and thus cannot call itself a Canadian award without a qualifier. Only when both French and English comic books are welcomed in their original forms will the Wright Awards be able to claim to honour all Canadian comic book artists.

Requesting Canadiens comic books to be published in English sets a double standard against them. They first must qualify by being published in French, and then qualify a second time by being published in English. Alternatively, the Canadiens creators could publish their projects directly in English and ignore their native language, which only encourages assimilation.

The solutions I see for the Wright Awards is to clearly label themselves as English Canadian only (while refusing translations from the French) or, accept French comic books in their original form. Option #2 would mean starting a dialogue and inviting Canadiens to the Wright Awards' table and start learning a bit of French.

Although The Comic Book Bin wishes to congratulate the winners of the 2008 Wright Awards, we cannot recognize them and accept their legitimacy, until they stop their discrimination against Canadian creators whose original comic books are published in French.

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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