July 13, 2015 11:30 am
Updated: July 13, 2015 3:25 pm

Fake headdress at Winnipeg Folk Festival prompts angry backlash

Many aboriginal people are deeply offended by fake feather headdresses such as this one.

Kim Wheeler / Handout / The Canadian Press

WINNIPEG – A woman wearing a headdress and face paint at the Winnipeg Folk Music Festival prompted harsh condemnation on social media on the weekend.

Many aboriginal people are deeply offended by the casual wearing of headdresses as fashion apparel, comparing it to wearing an honour such as a military medal by those not entitled to the award.

Dené Sinclair, an Anishinaabe Winnipegger from Peguis First Nation, said she spoke with the woman in the headdress. She told her she didn’t know where she was from, but she wanted her to know that in Manitoba, it’s not considered acceptable to wear headdresses as costumes.

“They didn’t really answer me,” Sinclair said.

“A headdress is a sacred object to be worn for ceremony,” she explained. “It’s not a fashion piece.”

Rebecca McCauley, the communications manager for the festival, said they plan to talk about possibly banning headdresses from the event.

READ MORE: Faux headdresses pulled from stores

“Cultural appropriation is just not something we accept,” she said Monday morning. “They’re a real honour and they’re worn for ceremonial purposes.”

McCauley said the issue isn’t one they’ve had to address in the past and she’s surprised people don’t understand how offensive wearing a fake headdress is, but perhaps this is a chance for education.

READ MORE: Smithsonian American Indian museum tackles racist stereotypes, mascots in American sports


© 2015 Shaw Media

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