Where's the line between appreciation and appropriation?

Métis visual artist Christi Belcourt and Ojibway playwright and humourist Drew Hayden Taylor tackle a thorny subject.
Métis artist Christi Belcourt says Valentino's adaptation of 'Water Song' was respectfully done, with her consultation. (Valentino)

Navajo-print leggings. Suede moccasins. Feather earrings. Fashion designers often draw inspiration from aboriginal cultures — but the love doesn't always flow both ways.

One thing is clear: cultural appropriation is a thorny subject. It's not always easy to tell between the work of aboriginal artists and mass-produced imitations, or to draw the line between appreciation and appropriation. 

For insight on this topic, guest host Candy Palmater checks in with two people: 

  • Métis visual artist Christi Belcourt discusses her experience (and hesitations about) collaborating with fashion line Valentino on their fall collection. She also explores the connection between cultural theft and violence against women. (Note: here's the Cindy Gladue story Belcourt references as an example) 
  • Plus, Ojibway playwright and humourist Drew Hayden Taylor weighs in on broader issues of cultural appropriation facing aboriginal artists today. He reflects on similar themes in his latest collection of essays, Me Artsy. (Note: The artist whose name he couldn't remember is Brian Jungen)
Christi Belcourt's Water Song (2012) is on display at the National Gallery of Canada. (christibelcourt.com)


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