There are infinite ways to be creative when dressing up for Halloween, so it’s a wonder some people still choose racist outfits.
One Aboriginal woman wants to remind Canadians that her people are just that — people — and not someone else’s costume.
Dressing up as chiefs and Indian princesses is "cultural appropriation,” wrote Alicia BigCanoe in a Facebook post, explaining the practice of outsiders misusing the traditional dress, regalia, and spiritual practices of an oppressed group.
BigCanoe is of Anishinaabe, Metis, and Italian background, and has roots in the Georgina Island First Nation in Ontario.
“In the spirit of Halloween, please keep this in mind when selecting your costume,” she added, along with the hashtag #IAmNotACostume.
In 2011, a group of students at Ohio University launched a campaign with the same message: “We’re a culture, not a costume.”
It included students of an ethnic minority holding photos of costumed people stereotyping their race.
“We just wanted to say, ‘Hey, this is not cool. This is offensive and this shouldn’t be taken lightly.’”
"We wanted to highlight these offensive costumes because we’ve all seen them,” Sarah Williams, president of Students Teaching Against Racism In Society, said at the time. "We just wanted to say, 'Hey, this is not cool. This is offensive and this shouldn’t be taken lightly.'"
This year, costumes that mischaracterize Aboriginal Canadians are still on store shelves. Indigenous people in Winnipeg recently told CBC News that outfits with names like "Reservation Royalty" and "Indian Princess" on sale at Spirit Halloween were hurtful and racist.