Arts·Art Post Outpost

Confronting cultural appropriation and more arts stories you might have missed

Your weekly roundup of the best arts stories from across the CBC network.

In this week's Art Post Outpost, controversial band names and an "Appropriation Prize" lead the news

Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq has led the charge on challenging white artists about their appropriative band names. (Canadian Press)

Here at CBC Arts, you won't just find our original content — we also bring you the best art posts from across the entire CBC network.

These are the week's can't-miss stories:

Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq has called out both the British pop band Get Inuit (left) and the Brooklyn group Eskimeaux, led by Gabrielle Smith (right), for their group's names. After talking with Tagaq, Smith changed her group's name to Ó. (Getinuit/Eskimeaux/Facebook)

How controversy, ignorance and coincidence can force a band name change (CBC News)

From British pop band Get Inuit to Calgary's Viet Cong, white musicians who choose controversial band names have been feeling the heat from the people who call them out — people like Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq, who hasn't backed down from challenging those musicians. With Tagaq and Get Inuit recently squaring off about their name, which band member James Simpson said they didn't mean to be derogatory, CBC News took a look at some of the other artists whose misguided choices have landed them in hot water.

Hal Niedzviecki, former editor of Writers Magazine wrote an opinion article in the latest issue of its quarterly magazine advocating for more cultural appropriation in Canadian literature. (

Writers' Union of Canada sorry for article encouraging cultural appropriation (CBC Indigenous)

Former Write Magazine editor Hal Niedzviecki ignited a firestorm of controversy last week with an op-ed encouraging writers to utilize cultural appropriation in their pieces and suggesting that there should be an "Appropriation Prize" in Canadian literature. The blowback was swift, with Niedzviecki resigning from his role shortly thereafter — but a number of fellow white journalists jumped into the conversation, volunteering to raise money for the prize. Of course, that only led to more blowback, and by Friday #appropriationprize was the #1 trending topic in Canada on Twitter. Read more from minority writers about why this discussion has been so troubling.

Pepe the Frog was created in 2005 by Matt Furie as part of his Boy's Club comic series. It's since become a popular meme. (Matt Furie)

Pepe croaks: Cartoonist kills off frog turned hate symbol (CBC News)

Online offence turned out to be a common theme among last week's news, with the creator of Pepe the Frog releasing a comic killing off the character as a rebuke to the "alt-right" political movement, who had co-opted Pepe and turned him into a racist symbol. Cartoonist Matt Furie first drew the "chill frog-dude" in 2006, but after years being used as a relatively harmless meme, the alt-right adopted him around 2015 and began associating the frog with anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi imagery — culminating in Pepe being declared a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League this past September. Furie grew to feel so defeated by the experience that he decided to destroy the character in an attempt to put an end to what he called "a nightmare."

Photographer Shelley Niro with Tom Power in the q studios in Toronto, Ont. (Melody Lau/CBC)

How Shelley Niro fought back against First Nations shaming with her photography (q)

Celebrated Mohawk artist Shelley Niro added another trophy to her case last week, taking home this year's Scotiabank Photography Award. She joined Tom Power for a chat on q about what the accomplishment means to her and the work that earned her the prize — work that q calls "political, bold, always thoughtful and, quite frequently, laugh-out-loud funny." And with some of the stories above showing just how far we still have to go when it comes to sensitivity around Indigenous issues, thank goodness for that work.

Mother-daughter team Jacqueline Cameron and Michelle Cameron-Coulter demonstrate adaptive clothing at their Calgary warehouse. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

'We all want to look good': Calgary company adapts clothes for those with disabilities (CBC Calgary)

We want to give former Olympian Michelle Cameron-Coulter another medal for her latest venture: an adaptive clothing line called Super-Fly that modifies clothing from other manufacturers with strategically placed zippers for the differently abled. The store, which she runs alongside her family, was inspired by her father Jack, who her mother said "was noticed not because he was in a wheelchair but because he always looked so amazing" thanks to the adaptive clothes she sewed for him. Now, they're letting everyone experience that with the launch of their new online store. Super fly, indeed.

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