Language Matters: A Commitment from the Detroit Editorial Team

“Canadian Spelling” Credit: The Other Press

“I’m trying to stay optimistic about these changes. But even your spelling is a reminder of the long arms of American cultural imperialism. Geez was one of the remaining refuges of critical thinking from a Canadian perspective. I feel that we’ve lost something special.”
—Sarah from Antigonish, NS

Dear friends of Geez,

As we move our office five minutes across the border, we are mindful of the deep grief and suspicion of many Canadian readers. There is no doubt that the United States is a deadly, colonial force and we now sit and edit from within it. We hear the concern and respect the subscribers and contributors who have had to say goodbye.

Perhaps one of the surprising questions from readers is what spelling we will use as our style guide for words like colour/color and labour/labor? Our instinct was to shift to the U.S. spelling for the sake of consistency and proofreading. We feared we would make mistakes because spellcheck and our eyes wouldn’t catch everything. And in fact, before we even made a decision, we sent out an email and I talked about the “NEIGHBORHOOD” where our office dwells. It happened by accident and without thought, and Canadian readers felt the shift.

Language matters. Power and history are woven into the words we use. Neither the U.S. nor the Canadian spelling is free from colonial history, but we acknowledge that this style question is larger than a decision of convenience. The “u” says something and we want to honour that. So, moving forward we will commit to learning and using the Canadian spelling to affirm our faithful readers and to express gratitude for the roots from which we came.

Lydia Wylie-Kellermann
Editor, Geez

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