Native Activists Refuse to Celebrate Canada’s Birthday, Say Commemorative Dream Catchers Are ‘Slap in Face’

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By Jillian Kay Melchior | 4:40 pm, May 26, 2017

As Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary, the discount shop Dollarama has a line of kitsch that includes bobble-head moose, patriotic T-shirts and hats—and dream catchers that Native American activists are denouncing as cultural appropriation.

A petition, which has received more than 2,000 signatures, says it’s “a slap in the face for us to see them hung surrounded by Canadian flags and other Canada 150 merchandise.”

“We inform [Dollarama] that most indigenous people are not celebrating this holiday as it is a reminder of years of colonial oppression and broken treaties,” the petition said. “We are not suggesting that non-indigenous people not have dream catchers and other indigenous items; what we ware encouraging is that people purchase authentic items rather than those mass-produced by multi-million-dollar corporations.”

Jamie McGean, a member of the Kanien’keha First Nation whose partner started the petition, told the Toronto Star that the Dollarama dream catchers were offensive to him as Dollarama communion bread and wine might be to a Catholic.

A Dollarama store in Canada

“Dream catchers are created for sacred ceremonies,” he told the Star. “They’re a gift given by the creator and those gifts aren’t for personal gain.”

Lyla Radmanovich, a spokeswoman for Dollarama, told Heat Street, “Dream catchers continue to be very popular items with customers from coast to coast, and so we will continue to carry them.”

— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.