By Special Correspondent Jessica Yee
Okay, so I’ll be honest, my night didn’t really start off too well. Waiting for the streetcar to come so I can go check out the much anticipated photo exhibit for “Prom Night in Mississippi” I see this gem of a display in a popular Queen West shoe store right across the street:
Between debating on going inside to voice my annoyance and offense, or hopping the fast approaching streetcar on this bitterly cold night and making my opinions heard later, I chose to go inside, and become angrier by the second as I make my way over there. Who the hell do they think they are? I’m probably like the tenth person who complained, I mean this is Toronto, for heaven’s sake!
“Excuse me, I am extremely offended by the “Indian” village display at the front of the store, can I speak to the manager?” I ask.
“Thank goodness you said something! No, he’s not here, but yeah, I said something and since I’m just an employee, it didn’t change.” she replies.
Turns out the company making the moccasins, mukluks, and boots on display is called Laurentian Chiefs, and she proceeds to tell me how they are actually from a reserve in Quebec (although I still have yet to confirm all the details of who this company really is).
“So does Laurentian Chiefs mandate the store to put on a display like that?” I continue.
“No, my boss just went out and bought the stuff.” she says.
Well that’s just great, especially considering all the amazingly gifted (and popular!) Native fashion designers, photographers, artists, and countless others in Toronto who could have easily given them some better guidance on how to put together a more realistic and ethical display. There are more than 60 000 Aboriginal people who live in this city. And apparently, I’m the first person who has said anything about it.
After collecting said manager’s info and being assured my comments would be passed along, I go back outside to wait for another streetcar, when a group of young Native women come along and also take notice of the display.
“That’s just racist, man.” one of them says. Continue reading