A Tribe Called Red has pulled out of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights' opening festivities this weekend, citing concerns about how the museum portrays aboriginal issues.
The museum announced late Thursday that the group, which was supposed to perform at a concert Saturday evening, "has elected not to participate over concern around the way Indigenous issues are presented in the Museum."
"We know that building dialogue and earning trust is a long-term process, and we hope this will again be an opportunity for respectful conversation on issues that historically haven't been easy to talk about," officials said in a statement.
A Tribe Called Red was slated to perform on Saturday evening as part of RightsFest, a weekend of music, dance, art and more that will follow the museum's opening ceremonies on Friday.
On Friday, the group released the following statement:
Human rights are great for society. We appreciate the work the museum has been doing to bring attention to global issues. Unfortunately, we feel it was necessary to cancel our performance because of the museum's misrepresentation and downplay of the genocide that was experienced by Indigenous people in Canada by refusing to name it genocide. Until this is rectified, we'll support the museum from a distance.
J.C Campbell, another aboriginal country and blues singer scheduled to play on the weekend, said he will continue as planned but he supports A Tribe Called Red's decision.
He said it's important for big acts like that to make big statements but it's also important to have an aboriginal presence at the museum's opening weekend. Campbell wants to go and sing songs relevant to aboriginal issues, like one called Residential School Pain.
Similarly, Don Amero, a Metis singer-songwriter, will take to the stage as planned. He said he understands the reasons behind A Tribe Called Red's decision but he hasn't been inside the museum yet and wants to see it first before passing judgment.
Full statement from Canadian Museum for Human Rights
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights deeply regrets that A Tribe Called Red will no longer take part in the Museum's opening weekend programming.
"The CMHR understands the group has elected not to participate over concern around the way Indigenous issues are presented in the Museum," the CMHR said in a statement. "We know that building dialogue and earning trust is a long-term process, and we hope this will again be an opportunity for respectful conversation on issues that historically haven't been easy to talk about."
The Museum has extended an invitation to A Tribe Called Red to tour the CMHR at their convenience to experience for themselves the full breadth of exhibit content dedicated to Indigenous perspectives and issues.
Museum officials noted that input and community engagement with Indigenous Peoples across Canada is ongoing, with the goal to become a broadly representative and accessible public resource on Indigenous issues. Indigenous perspectives, struggles and themes are included on every level of the building and reflected in the Museum's architecture.
Cultivating trust and understanding is an essential part of the CMHR's mandate, the Museum said, which will be achieved through continued discussion and dialogue.