ALBERTA

Calgary Folk Fest Refuses To Ban Native Headdresses

07/16/2015 01:42 EDT | Updated 07/16/2015 01:59 EDT
Joel Ryan/AP
A music lover with heart-shaped sunglasses and a feathered headdress passes through Glastonbury Music Festival on Saturday, June 27, 2015 at Worthy Farm, Glastonbury, England. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

Organizers of the Calgary Folk Music Festival say they will not ban First Nations headdresses this year, but say it's only because they have never had anyone show up to the festival wearing one in the first place.

Unlike organizers for the Edmonton Folk Fest and Osheaga music festival in Montreal, who announced earlier this week that they would ban the feathered headdresses, the Calgary Folk Fest will leave it up to attendees to be respectful, the organization says.

"The Calgary Folk Festival does not endorse anyone wearing culturally inappropriate or offensive attire of any sort. While we do not have a policy that specifically bans any type of attire, we trust our inclusive, diverse and intelligent audience to be respectful and we trust them to make appropriate choices. We hope our Festival attendees continue to focus more on the music than what they are wearing," said Executive Director Debbi Salmonsen in a post to the Calgary Folk Fest's Facebook page Wednesday.

The Calgary Folk Festival does not endorse anyone wearing culturally inappropriate or offensive attire of any sort. ...

Posted by Calgary Folk Music Festival on Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Some fans, however, expressed their disappointment in the festival's refusal to institute an outright ban.

"This is sad. You're missing the opportunity to make change in favour of crossing your fingers and looking the other way," wrote Pamela Haskell on the Facebook post.

"This is too safe. Why not be proactive? Why not speak out against racism in a profound way by taking a stand?" asked Christopher G. Canning.

Feathered headdresses have popped up on the festival circuit in recent years. Many First Nations people argue that wearing a headdress is culturally insensitive and a form of cultural appropriation. They say a headdress is a sacred item, often used for ceremony and worn by elders.

The Edmonton Folk Festival announced via their Facebook page Tuesday that they would confiscate these items from anyone who wears them through the gates.

Special Note: At this time of greater awareness, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival would like to ask our patrons to...

Posted by Edmonton Folk Music Festival on Tuesday, July 14, 2015

"Such headdresses have a sacred, cultural meaning and we ask that you respect and honour that by not using them as a fashion accessory," the post read.

Last weekend, a woman at the Winnipeg Folk Festival faced backlash after she was spotted wearing a headdress and face paint.

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