Panel of youth artists to discuss cultural appropriation and artistic resistance

A panel of youth artists will lead a discussion on Wednesday in Toronto about cultural appropriation and how Indigenous artists use their work as a form of resistance.

'We have to reinstate who we are ... and put our footprint on the art industry'

Riley Kucheran, Graduate student at Ryerson University, will be one of the panellists for the Cultural Appropriation and Art-based Acts of Resistance event (Narrative Drive/Ryerson University)

A panel of youth artists will lead a discussion on Wednesday in Toronto about cultural appropriation and how Indigenous artists use their work as a form of resistance.

"I don't think people realize how damaging it can be to Indigenous people," says Riley Kucheran, who will be joining the panel.

"I think a lot of people take it as a black and white issue and say that appropriation happens all the time and that's how culture operates."

Kucheran is an Ojibway graduate student at Ryerson University who, in his graduate research, has been looking at the relationship between Indigenous people and the fashion industry.

"I think the best way to target cultural appropriation is to tell our own stories," says Kucheran.

Opportunity to learn

The discussion is being organized by Canadian Roots Exchange. The inspiration comes out of the discussions over the past year about cultural appropriation and what conversations Indigenous communities and young people should be having, says Max FineDay.

Max FineDay is Co-executive director of Canadian Roots Exchange, an organization that brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth to promote reconciliation (John Paillé)

FineDay is a member of Sweetgrass First Nation and the co-executive director of Canadian Roots Exchange, a national not-for-profit organization that brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people to work toward reconciliation.

"This is one of those great opportunities where Canadians can come, sit, listen, laugh and can also learn," he said.

Some very public instances of cultural appropriation from non-Indigenous artists last year like Amanda PL, and the proposal of a cultural appropriation prize by a magazine editor caught the attention of Canadian Roots Exchange who saw bringing a conversation about cultural appropriation to young people as a necessary step in the reconciliation process.

Putting 'our footprint on the art industry'

Cultural appropriation is an issue that needs to be taken seriously, says Kara Jade a.k.a. Métis Monroe who is a model, motivational speaker and "femcee" or female rapper. She said that's why it's important to create this dialogue among young people. 

Kara Jade AKA Metis Monroe is a First Nations Metis Cree femcee model and motivational speaker who will be moderating the panel discussion on Cultural Appropriation and Art-based Acts of Resistance (Saint Aubyn)

"We have to reinstate who we are [as Indigenous people] and put our footprint on the art industry," says Jade, who will be moderating the discussion.  

"History isn't really taught well in schools, so it's up to our people to educate people on the Indigenous resistance and art and taking it back to where it came from."

The panel discussion is at the Centre for Social Innovation Annex Garage at 720 Bathurst St.on Wednesday from 6:30-8:30 p.m.