Indigenous activists want Dollarama to stop selling dreamcatchers beside Canada 150 items
Jackie Dunham, CTVNews.ca
Published Thursday, May 25, 2017 10:21AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 26, 2017 10:58AM EDT
Canadian discount retailer Dollarama is coming under fire by indigenous rights activists who are accusing the company of appropriating their culture by placing dreamcatchers alongside Canada 150 items on store shelves.
An online petition created by grassroots indigenous activists in Stouffville, Ont., just north of Toronto, are calling on the retail chain to stop hanging the dreamcatchers amongst the Canada 150 flags, buttons and other souvenirs.
One of those activists, Jamie McGean from the Kanien’keha First Nation, told CTV News Channel on Wednesday that he’s accustomed to seeing kitschy dreamcatchers sold at Dollarama and in other stores for a long time now, but that he takes issue with their placement among the Canada 150 merchandise because it implies that indigenous people are supporting those celebrations.
“We’re not celebrating Canada 150,” McGean said. “We’re celebrating 150 years on stolen land. It’s actually been over 500 years of broken treaties.”
McGean said he’s not aware of too many other indigenous people planning on commemorating Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation on July 1.
The petitioners wrote that they don’t have a problem with non-indigenous people owning dreamcatchers or other items from their culture, but that they wish people would buy products from indigenous sources.
“What we are encouraging is that people purchase authentic items rather than those mass-produced by multi-million dollar corporations,” the online petition stated.
Dollarama responded to the activists’ protests with an emailed statement that said they would continue to sell the dreamcatchers because they are “very popular among customers across Canada” and because this was an “isolated complaint.”
Lyla Radmanovich, a spokesperson for Dollarama, told CTV News in a written statement that the company is aware of the customers’ feedback and that it’s been shared with the “appropriate department.”
McGean said he was “dumbfounded” by the dollar store’s response to their grievances.
“The company is literally saying to me that they’re choosing profits over people and that’s wrong,” he said.
The grassroots activist said indigenous groups across North America have been actively fighting against cultural appropriation for many years.
“Not too long ago we had the Halloween costumes that were a big controversy,” McGean said. “It’s the same thing over and over again.”
As of Thursday morning, the Change.org online petition has received 1,784 signatures for their goal of 2,500.