“‘Indian’” costumes – no matter how innocent in intent – perpetuate stereotyping.”
A Message of Consideration from the Niagara Regional Native Centre in Niagara, Ontario
Dear Niagara Community at Large,
It is the position of the Niagara Regional Native Centre that “Indian”, “Native American” or any Indigenous based costume perpetuates stereotypes that marginalize members of our shared urban Indigenous communities.
While it is not the place of a community centre to direct the behaviour of retailers, consumers, or families celebrating a Canadian cultural event we do hope to work within our mandate to share knowledge with both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous community in Niagara.
We encourage our friends and fellow community members to be mindful of the impacts of stereotyping as an implicit form of racism. “Indian” costumes, no matter how innocent in intent perpetuate stereotyping. Stereotyping – or overgeneralizing a belief – a group of people is harmful and can fuel prejudicial attitudes that can result in discrimination and hurtful actions.
Nazi death camps, segregation of black people, the internment of the Japanese during World War Two in Canada, and the Canadian residential school system are examples where stereotyping lead to discrimination against people or groups of people based on their race.
We do not wish to imply that a Halloween costume will result in these extreme examples but it is important to note that they exist on the same spectrum of prejudicial and discriminatory attitudes.
It is important to note that some of the attitudes around pan-Indianism, stereotypes, bias and outright discrimination have become pervasive and we would like to re-iterate that it is not up to us, nor do we wish it to be up to us, how people enjoy their leisure time but we think it’s important to circulate a reminder that seemingly innocuous behaviour can manifest in very negative ways.
If there are any questions or comments we are always eager to advance dialogue around important social issues and to answer any questions that may arise as a result of this statement.
The Niagara Regional Native Centre Board of Directors
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