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Calgary Folk Festival isn’t banning headdresses, but doesn’t want you to wear one

WATCH: Here’s Global’s Jill Croteau on why they won’t follow the lead of other festivals, by banning headdresses at this year’s event.

CALGARY – After Montreal’s Osheaga music and arts festival banned traditional Aboriginal headdresses and Edmonton’s Folk Fest followed suit, the Calgary Folk Music Festival has raised eyebrows with two Facebook posts a day apart.

On Wednesday, a Facebook statement attributed to executive director Debbi Salmonsen said it doesn’t have a policy banning any type of attire.

“The Calgary Folk Festival does not endorse anyone wearing culturally inappropriate or offensive attire of any sort. While we do not have a policy that specifically bans any type of attire, we trust our inclusive, diverse and intelligent audience to be respectful and we trust them to make appropriate choices. We hope our Festival attendees continue to focus more on the music than what they are wearing.”

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READ MORE: Osheaga music festival bans wearing headdresses as fashion accessories 

After replies to the Facebook post including, “Why not be proactive? Why not speak out against racism in a profound way by taking a stand?” and “You’re missing the opportunity to make change in favour of crossing your fingers and looking the other way,” there was a new post on the topic on Thursday.

The festival post said: “We support this view and ask that our Festival attendees respect it” then quoted Buffy Sainte-Marie, a Canadian-American Cree musician who is performing at the festival.

“Appropriating Native American traditional regalia underscores the thoughtlessness of the ignorant who still don’t understand, usually because nobody’s ever made it clear. Let’s smarten you up. If you had planned to wear a headdress to a concert, please don’t.

“Our headdresses aren’t fashion statements and we don’t feel complimented by your appropriation.

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“Our beautiful feather headdresses belong to deep cultural and religious parts of our actual ancestral heritage. They are as personal to us as your grandmother’s photo is to your family who might object to see it misused on the crotch of a wrestler on TV.”

Sainte-Marie went on to criticize Cher, Las Vegas performers and David Guetta. Read the full post below:

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Outrage over headdresses was reignited over the weekend after a woman wore a headdress at the Winnipeg Folk Music Festival.

READ MORE: Winnipeg Folk Fest headdress prompts angry backlash 

She may not have been the first festival-goer to be accused of cultural appropriation, which University of Alberta Native Studies professor Pat McCormack defines as “taking something that’s critical to someone’s cultural tradition and using it for your own purposes.”

The practice is not only senseless, according to McCormack, but also racist.

“It’d be like someone who’s down there [at] a folk festival dancing with a yarmulke, which a Jewish person would wear to temple.”

“I would say it’s very much like blackface.”

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Osheaga and Edmonton Folk Festival aren’t the first festival to ban headdresses. They join B.C.’s Bass Coast electronic music festival, which banned “feathered war bonnets, or anything resembling them” last July.

With files from Trish Kozicka

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