Hudson’s Bay Blanket as a Symbol of Canadian Identity

An examination of the adaptive uses of the Hudson’s Bay blanket, and their selection as an iconic Olympic symbol speak to how deeply engrained they are into the imagination of Canadian identity, and elevate them to far more than just a staple trade item. The blanket can be read simultaneously as a symbol for good and ill, as it denotes both a resilient and creative spirit of adaptation, and also the complicated and sometimes devastating ties with colonial powers overseas. The impact of the symbiotic fur and blanket trade cannot be understated as it directly shaped the political and regional development of a proto-Canada. As for the HBC today, it is currently owned by an American venture capitalist, and the British, imperial, commodity-based transactional nature of the HBC historical ontology can lead to the question how Canadian it ever truly was? Our historical economic interdependence and residual colonial power structures have left some hierarchical ties that still lead straight back to England. As with the unquestioning veneration of the HBC blanket itself, Canada’s naïve interpretation of our own post-colonial ontology and power deserves closer scrutiny.

 

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Blanket Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hudson%27s_Bay_point_blanket

 

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