… an Algonquin friend told me I didn’t understand something because my first language was English. She pointed out that the majority of words in English are nouns, while the majority of words in Anishinabe languages are verbs.
—Bob Thomson, in his NatPost article excerpted below
# Bob Thomson, CIDA, Chile, 1973, 9/11/73°
Bob Thomson, on being presented with the 2013 Integrity Award by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), said:
Freedom of expression goes hand in hand with the voices of that expression. Free expressions come with implications that we can easily miss if we rely only on our own cultural narratives. Several years ago, for instance, an Algonquin friend told me I didn’t understand something because my first language was English. She pointed out that the majority of words in English are nouns, while the majority of words in Anishinabe languages are verbs. They see the world from a perspective of action and process, while we see the world from a perspective of things. It was a profound revelation.
In regard to Chile, I was a catalyst in a complex, multi-actor process, and I have no regrets despite (perhaps even because of) the life-changing impact it had on me. I wasn’t hurt as badly as Chelsea/Bradley Manning or Julian Assange or Edward Snowden have been for their recent whistle-blowing and their imprisonment or flight into exile. Or the many journalists in Canada and around the world, in both mainstream and alternative media, who risk their lives or reputations to bring us hidden facts, alternative voices and interpretations.
In 1998, I was attending an event and seated at the same table was a Chilean refugee. He told me he was in Canada thanks to some guy who leaked cables from the Canadian embassy. When one of my colleagues identified me as that whistleblower, the Chilean-Canadian got up, walked around the table and threw his arms around me.
Yes, it was worth it.