OTTAWA - Having some First Nations heritage won't let Justin Bieber fill up his car for free, but it will get the Canadian pop star some help tracing his family tree.
The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples is offering to help the 18-year-old singing sensation find out more about his native ancestry, while giving him the benefit of the doubt over his comments to Rolling Stone magazine.
A story in the magazine's August edition quotes Bieber as saying he thinks his native heritage entitles him to a free pass at the pump.
"I'm actually part Indian," Bieber told Rolling Stone. "I think Inuit or something? I'm enough per cent that in Canada I can get free gas."
But the Congress, which represents off-reserve status and non-status Metis and First Nations Canadians throughout Canada, says it's simply not true that aboriginal people get to fill up for free.
"These kinds of remarks are another example of what Aboriginal Peoples in Canada struggle with every day," National Chief Betty Ann Lavallee said in a statement.
"It promotes the misconception that we are somehow getting a free ride. This simply is not the case and we are concerned that many people may believe what he said."
The singer's comment sparked an online backlash, but the Congress is urging people to go easy on Bieber.
"Given that Mr. Bieber is still a young man, and unaware of the facts here, I personally don't think he should be beat up over this comment," said Vice Chief Dwight Dorey. "We don't think he was trying to be malicious, or making a joke of aboriginal issues."
The Congress has offered to help the young star from Stratford, Ont., trace his roots.
"It's important for someone to know where they come from, which helps give them a better understanding of where they are going," Lavallee said.