A Saskatchewan woman says putting Indigenous regalia into the category of a costume is a huge insult to her Indigenous history and culture.
Carol Daniels is a former journalist turned author. She joined Sheila Coles on CBC Radio's The Morning Edition sharing her experience growing up in a white community and being humiliated on Halloween when she was only five years old.
"For anyone who says it's not a big deal, it is a big deal," Daniels said.
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This comes after a Saskatoon activist approached Spirit Halloween executives calling for the removal of offensive, stereotypical costumes depicting Indigenous culture. Spirit Halloween said they would not remove the costumes from the stores.
At the time, Daniels was living with a foster family after being displaced during the Sixties Scoop. It was the Halloween before she started Grade 1 and her foster mother had dressed her up as a little Indigenous girl with fake leather and cheap feathers.
"It was OK. Whatever, I had no idea or concept what that meant."
But when she arrived at the school, the reactions she heard broke her down to tears.
"All these comments were made about, 'Oh look at the savage and the ugly little squaw' and everyone was laughing and pointing fingers. I was five and I was mortified," she said.
"Being dressed up like a little Indian was a horrible, horrible thing … It planted the seed for this terrible source of shame for being brown which I carried all the way up until my 20s."
Daniels added she's happy to see the conversation happening about whether or not these costumes depicting Indigenous culture are appropriate or not.
She said if people choose to dress up as an Indigenous person, she won't be handing out any candy to them.
"Mean is just mean. You can call it political correctness if you want but it's just wrong," she said.
In light of the awful experience, Daniels wrote a poem called Costume and it will be published in a new poetry collection next year.