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Megan Red Shirt-Shaw: Music festival outlaws faux headdresses

Filed Under: Opinion
More on: megan red shirt-shaw, music, stereotypes

Festival goers in faux headdresses. Photo from VICE

Megan Red Shirt-Shaw interviews Bass Coast communications manager Paul Brooks about the music festival's decision to ban faux headdresses:
How long has the conversation about banning headdresses been happening with the Bass Coast team? How did the conversation begin and how were advisors chosen to discuss this topic?

The festival started in Squamish in 2009, closer to Vancouver, but we eventually outgrew our site and moved to Merritt, which sits on Aboriginal land and has a lot of Aboriginal people living there on reserves. When I started with Bass Coast last year, the conversation about the ban was already on the table. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the resources and couldn’t get the message out to our security team for 2013’s festival. We regretted not being able to implement it but did have some education on site, including a few Aboriginal groups set up with workshops talking about cultural appropriation.

Headdresses have not historically been an issue at our event and the number of people who have appeared has been very small. However, we’re a community that looks out for itself. We wanted to start discussions with people. We felt that we had to deal with this issue as it made all of the core members of our team uncomfortable. Throughout our decision process, we worked with some of the local bands here, including Coldwater & Lower Nicola as well as Upper Nicola, Nooaiatch, and Shacka, and they were all on board with us making up a policy for this. We wanted to implement this dress code not just for the Aboriginal people of the area, but also for Indigenous people across Canada and North America.

Get the Story:
Why A Popular Music Festival Banned Headdresses (Think Progress 7/29)

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