Thursday, July 24, 2014
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First Nations people want more penalties for U of R cheer team

Costumes called racist and Hollywood Indian

Reported by Andrew Shepherd

News Talk CJME 980

First Nations people across Saskatchewan are not happy with the University of Regina cheer team.

They say the team made fun of their culture by wearing offensive costumes in a cowboy and Indian themed event. Pictures from the occasion were posted online then removed after receiving a huge backlash on Instagram and Twitter.

Chasity Delorme is a student at the First Nations University and said the costumes aren't accurate.

"They portray us stereotypically the way the Hollywood Indian would and that's not who we are," she said explaining that traditionally aboriginal women didn't wear feathers in their hair or chant with their hands slapping their mouths.

More than the costumes themselves, Delorme is further offended that it was a group of young women and their coach that initiated that kind of event knowing that people could be insulted.

"I'm sure there's a few people on the team that probably knew it wasn't the right thing to do but didn't say anything."

While there are a lot of First Nations people speaking up about the incident some students question their sensitivity because there are no, or very few, people complaining about the cowboy costume.

"No one talks about the cowboys; how offended they might be," said Jordan Bellisle, "It was a costume. Let's calm down."

Delorme explained the reason for that is because the aboriginals are very sensitive and proud of their culture. She said they have a spiritual connection to the land and hold high respect for their ancestors.

While some think a mandatory cultural sensitivity class for the members of the cheer team is a fair consequence, others do not. Bonny Gordon, a student at the First Nations University, said it is about the image and the message it sends. She believes the stereotypical images are feeding the underlying racism that still exists in Saskatchewan.

Regardless of the penalty imposed on the cheer team, Gordon said all U of R students should take classes like the one now forced on the team.

"If they did take those indigenous studies degrees they would have a better understanding of our people rather than to make fun of them," she said.

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