In that moment, I felt closer to whiteness than not. I was completely complicit and didn’t think twice about entering a space that could cover their walls with images of contemporary Indigenous perspectives, but exclude their physical bodies from entering and experiencing. In that moment, I felt like a real Canadian.
Before I Was a Critic I Was a Human Being is the debut collection of nonfiction essays by Amy Fung. In it, Fung takes a closer examination at Canada's mythologies of multiculturalism, settler colonialism, and identity through the lens of a national art critic.
Following the tangents of a foreign-born perspective and the complexities and complicities in participating in ongoing acts of colonial violence, the book as a whole takes the form of a very long land acknowledgement. Taken individually, each essay roots itself in the learning and unlearning process of a first generation settler immigrant as she unfurls each region's sense of place and identity
“The hours I've spent with this knowing and moving book about place and placelessness are among the most valuable of my reading life. Wow, thank you, Amy." —Eileen Myles
"As an Indigenous/Haudenosaunee writer and reader, I recognize that Amy Fung's book does not try to convince us that she is a native rights ally but shows us with language how to mould the term ally into a verb." —Janet Rogers, author of Totem Poles and Railroads
"In this compelling work, Amy Fung breathes life and relevance into criticality. This visitor's guide is integral reading." —Cecily Nicholson, author of Wayside Sang, winner of the Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry.