Chief calls for feathered bonnet and First Nations-inspired costumes to be pulled from Toronto Caribbean Carnival

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017 2:29pm


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A First Nation leader is calling for a stylized Indigenous headdress and outfit be withdrawn from the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, which is marking its theme to mark Canada's 150th year of Confederation.

Carnival Nationz released photographs yesterday of the outfits its group will be wearing.

Deputy Grand Chief Denise Stonefish of the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians (AIAI) says it sends a derogatory message about Indigenous culture and women.

“Indigenous people are not the ones that are misconstruing history. This is not only about the disrespect to our regalia, our beliefs, and the cultural significance of the headdress itself, it is also about the underlying messaging that the themed costume worn by the women in the photograph continues to perpetuate sexualized violence against Indigenous women during this time of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls National Inquiry.”

“As Chairperson for both the Ontario First Nations Women’s Caucus and the Assembly of First Nations Women’s Council and on their behalf, I am respectfully requesting that the use of our traditional headdress and costume be withdrawn from the Toronto Caribbean Carnival.

“To continue portraying women in this light is offensive to all Indigenous women worldwide.”

Stonefish said it is disheartening, but work will continue to end all forms of violence against Indigenous women through the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Women and Girls, the United Nations Committee to End Discrimination Against Women and the publication Walking Together: Ontario's Long-Term Strategy to End Violence Against Indigenous Women.