writer seeking research leads: Vietnam era Resistors and their impact on Canadian Ceramics

Writer and researcher Mary Ann Steggles is reaching out for assistance in collecting names of Ceramic Artists for a project.The project is as outlined below. Please assist if you can.

“The impact of Vietnam Era Resistors, Dodgers, COs, and social and political activists on Canadian ceramics: Can you help?

My name is Mary Ann Steggles and I arrived in Canada on June 4, 1969, as a social and political activist from Oklahoma due to the Vietnam Conflict. I have been awarded a small Canada Council Jean A Chalmers grant to research the impact of the Vietnam era resistors, dodgers, COs, and/or social and political activists on Canadian ceramics. I need help in locating individuals who set up studios and who might have taught or exhibited – women or men – if they still reside in Canada or not. Many have died but they will still be of interest. If you know of someone, please have them contact me: maryann.steggles@umanitoba.ca

This research will be presented in its early stages at a conference in Dublin in late April 2017 celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary and her ‘lost’ history. Eventually, all will form a book and an exhibition of the work of these marvelous individuals. Please see below for a summary of the project.

It has now been more than five decades since the United States escalated its war in Vietnam. From the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963 to the fall of Saigon in 1975, between 40,000 and 100,000 Americans came to Canada as an act of resistance. These men and women, mostly white, urban, middle class and educated, whose average age was twenty-five, were leaving a country that was engulfed in political and social unrest with no promise to be able to return. They settled across Canada from British Columbia’s Vancouver and Gulf Islands to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The Resisters, as many called them, consciously embraced new life styles, ways of earning a living, while, at the same time, being environmentally and politically pro-active. These countercultural youth recycled decades before it became mainstream. The mantra was always to cause as little damage to the environment as possible. They planted organic gardens and began food coops and day care centers. Some managed to live entirely off the proceeds of their food production while others found that they needed part time work to survive. A number learned how to make ceramics, if they had not had previous training, while others turned to glass blowing, textiles, or wood and leather working. The purpose was to create not only something useful and beautiful but also to acquire a source of income, which was not controlled by a large corporation. Indeed, it is now more than four decades since the first of the youth migrated to Canada. Most of them are now in their 70s and 80s. In the Foreword to Hell NO, We Won’t GO. Vietnam Draft Resisters in Canada, Pierre Berton states: “It is to the credit of this country that we accepted the American draft resisters in spite of pressure from the United States and in spite of efforts by some of our own authorities to send them back. That they have enriched our culture goes without saying” (Haig-Brown, 1996, p. ix-x).”

Please contact Mary Ann Steggles at maryann.steggles@umanitoba.ca