Justin Bieber chided by aboriginal group for free gas comment
Singer's statement promotes misconception that First Nations get 'free ride'
Pop star Justin Bieber is facing criticism from an aboriginal group after saying that he believes he is part aboriginal and can fill up at the pumps for free as a result.
"I'm actually part Indian. I think Inuit or something?" Bieber was quoted as saying in Rolling Stone magazine's August issue. "I'm enough per cent that in Canada I can get free gas."
The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples said Thursday that Bieber's statement requires that "misconceptions" be cleared up.
His claim that "Aboriginal people are entitled to free gas is simply not true," the group's national chief, Betty Ann Lavallée, said in a statement.
"These kinds of remarks are another example of what Aboriginal Peoples in Canada struggle with every day," she said. "It promotes the misconception that we are somehow getting a free ride. This simply is not the case and we are concerned that many people may believe what he said."
The group, which represents off-reserve status and non-status Metis and First Nations Canadians throughout Canada, also offered to help the 18-year-old find out more about his ancestry.
The singer's comment sparked an online backlash, but the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples is urging people to go easy on Bieber.
"It's important for someone to know where they come from, which helps give them a better understanding of where they are going," Lavallee said.
In Toronto, Bieber's remarks prompted the Museum of Inuit Art to offer free admission throughout August, in the hopes that more people will come in to learn about different aspects of First Nations culture.
The museum has also offered the Stratford, Ont., native a tour but they haven't received a response.
Last week, Ojibway-Metis comedian Ryan McMahon told APTN that he didn't think the pop singer's comments were worth making a fuss over.
"I know there are a lot of people waging online war against Bieber, inviting him to the communities to come and see the poverty," McMahon was quoted as saying.
"The reality is our struggles are on the ground, and I always think that is where our focus should go first."
With files from The Canadian Press