Advocates urge party-goers to avoid 'racist' First Nations costumes this Halloween
With Halloween less than a week away, First Nations advocates are urging party-goers to think twice before dressing up as a "Noble Warrior," "Native Princess," or "Chief Hotty Body."
The skimpy costumes – complete with faux leather fringes, feathers, and beaded patterns – can be found online and in novelty shops throughout the country.
But critics say the widely available costumes are both historically inaccurate and deeply offensive.
"It's not only racist, it's dangerous," Cheryl Bryce, former land manager of the Songhees First Nation, told CTV Vancouver. "It's misrepresenting aboriginal peoples across Canada."
In a country where aboriginal women are three times more likely than non-aboriginal women to experience "violent victimization," Bryce said the often-revealing female costumes "objectify First Nations women even further."
"It's disrespectful, and it's not really understanding indigenous peoples of the land, or honouring indigenous peoples in any way," she said.
Despite similar objections from indigenous people and their supporters throughout North America, many stores continue to carry the outfits.
At one Vancouver Halloween shop, the owner said the store's stock isn't based on "political correctness."
"We don't purchase our inventory based on politics," said Stephen Kass, the owner of InCharacter Costumes and Novelties.
Now, as Halloween approaches, UBC historical studies professor Mona Gleason is urging those who share Kass's point of view to think twice before buying one of the costumes.
"I think there's a whole other thing that should kick in when you think about dressing up as a 'noble warrior,' " she said. "If they think their costume might cause discomfort or harm to other people, they might want to think about that."
With files from CTV Vancouver