Tuesday, September 23, 2014
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First Nations student told to remove 'Got Land?' sweatshirt by Sask. School

CTVNews.ca Staff

A Saskatchewan student says her school asked her to remove a sweatshirt bearing the words "Got land? Thank an Indian," after it sparked complaints.

Tenelle Starr, 13, said that the sweatshirt speaks about First Nations treaties and land rights.

"I like the meaning and it's a true statement," she told CTV Regina.

But not everyone at her school, located in the town of Balcarres, approved of the slogan.

She was initially told to take the sweatshirt off. The school later said she could wear it, but only after meeting with her family and community members.

The designer of the sweatshirt, Winnipeg resident Jeff Menard, said he feels bad that Starr was criticized for wearing his design, but he doesn't shy away from the message it sends.

"Just like it says, 'Got land? Thank an Indian,'" he said. "As anybody who knows their history can recall from their teachers, who was here first? It was the Native people."

Menard said that when he wears his sweatshirt he mostly gets compliments. However, there was an incident last week, where a stranger confronted him over it.

"This guy comes up to me and says, 'We pay for you, you guys get everything for free… we pay our taxes,'" Menard said, adding that he told the stranger that he works for Canada Post and pays taxes as well.

"He was willing to fight me over my hoodie," he said.

Menard said he's sold thousands of sweatshirts bearing the slogan, and he's hoping to give one to Neil Young on Thursday at the singer's "Honour the Treaties" concert.

Last November, Jelsey Sumner said a Winnipeg bus driver ordered her off the bus because she was wearing the sweatshirt.

Her brother, Theodore Letandre, said he filed a complaint, but Winnipeg transit says it has no video to support the claim.

Letandre says his sister is telling the truth.

"She has no reason to lie to me," he said. "I believe her 100 per cent."

With reports by CTV Winnipeg's Sheila North and CTV Yorkton's Tyler Esquivel

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