Subtle insult, real anger

by Chad Diabo, Mohawk of Kahnawake

As a young Aboriginal person, it is my responsibility to bring to light an issue that affects many of the Aboriginal people who attended Canada's host night event on Friday, October 18, at the World Conservation Congress in Montreal.

Although probably the intent of the organizers of the event was positive, the effect on me as a young Aboriginal person was negative. I was angered and insulted by the fact that Aboriginal people were showcased as token props in Canada's big event night.

Specifically, the meal table that showcased food from the Northwest Territories had traditional Inuit food being served by two non-aboriginal men dressed in traditional Inuit clothing.
You don't see white people dressing up and presenting themselves as black people anymore, so why is it appropriate to become Inuit, Native or Me'tis.

I see it as my responsibility as a young Aboriginal leader to speak out for the respect that my people, my traditions and my culture deserve. As a Native youth in Canada, I am part of a movement that is reclaiming our heritage and through it building our pride and our self-respect.

For many Aboriginal people our traditional clothing is much more than clothing; it is a part of who we are; it involves our traditions, our culture, our spirituality, and our pride.
For non-aboriginal people to don our traditional clothing for "show" without showing respect for its meaning and values shows a total lack of respect for who we are and how we feel.
For me, watching the food being served made me feel like I was the butt end of a bad joke.

For all the progress that has been achieved thus far from the World Conservation Congress, this incident shows that Canada's ignorance in respect to understanding Aboriginal people is still a problem.

Aboriginal people are Inuit, Native and Me'tis, they are the Indigenous people of Canada.