Photo on Yellowknife tourism brochure blasted for skewing First Nations culture
'My grandmother just would have laughed at this'
The publishers of a Yellowknife tourism booklet are taking heat for using a photo of a First Nations woman dressed in buckskin and a painted face, kneeling beside a horse.
"None of my people ever rode on horses. Nor did we wear such scantily-clad outfits," said Stacie Smith, who owns Flowers North and bought advertising space in the publication. "My grandmother just would have laughed at this."
The brochure is published by Alberta-based EnRoute Mapping, which is not affiliated with any northern tourism organizations. It's being mailed out to homes in the city.
Dozens of Yellowknife businesses bought ad space in it.
Smith, who is Tlicho, said she complained to the publisher after seeing the cover earlier this month.
"The First Nations culture is very rich here. We very much know what our culture is and this only deadens it," she said. "It brings it to a different place and this is not us, not the First Nations of the Northwest Territories."
Angus Charlo of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation said a dogsled would have been a better choice than a horse.
"Basically those are the plains Indians. That's what it looks like," he said. "I think we should have our culture on there, like, where are the Yellowknives Dene drummers?"
Carol Sundberg, who runs EnRoute Mapping, the Alberta-based company that created the brochure, said she chose the picture from a stock photo service because she "thought it was amazing and the most beautiful piece of art I have ever seen.
"So it's a bad idea because it doesn't depict them [First Nations in the NWT] directly, but I felt that picture was complimentary, and certainly it wasn't in my heart to upset anyone," she said.
"The least I can do is say, 'I'm so sorry'," says Sundberg. "Next time in the future I will be very careful."
With files from Marc Winkler