British Journal of Canadian Studies

Taming settler colonialism: the statue of Lieutenant Harry Colebourn and Winnie-the-Bear

British Journal of Canadian Studies (2020), 32, (1-2), 65–92.

Abstract

This article argues that a popular Winnie-the-Bear statue operates within the framework of family to ‘tame’ the anxieties around settler colonialism. The ostensibly benign motives for taming that the statue condones align with and consolidate those offered in dominant discourses around bear capture, taming, and captivity in Canadian spaces of human/bear encounter. In keeping with such a project, the statue works to calm any discomfort visitors might feel about actual bear docility and captivity, particularly as these apply to the polar bears in the park’s adjacent zoo and the tranquilised black bears that are occasionally spotted in residential areas. By extension, the statue opens up questions of taming and subservience in the authority structures that undergird the creation and maintenance of the Canadian nation state where docile, disempowered bodies have constituted and continue to constitute the desirable colonised subject in a settler-colonial society.

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Author details

Whalen, Tracy