Now that October 3lst has arrived, many of us are rushing to get our costumes ready. Halloween is definitely one of my favourite times of the year. After all, who doesn’t like dressing up and free candy? Although it is finally spooky season, it is important to stay safe and also respectful with the costumes you choose.
What is cultural appropriation? It is a particular power dynamic in which members of a dominant culture take elements from a culture of people who have been systematically oppressed by that dominant group. In simpler terms, it is taking aspects of a culture that is not your own in a way that shows no understanding or appreciation to the culture.
One of the most common items that is culturally appropriated is First Nation headdresses. Variations of these are used in fashion shows, in festivals, and Halloween costumes. First Nations have historically been oppressed and while Canada is working towards reconciliation, it is most definitely not okay to wear a First Nation headdress if you do not identify as a member of the First Nations peoples.
Chief Isadore Day Wiindawtegowinini of Serpent River says, “When you’re given a headdress, there’s a responsibility that comes with that, and often those responsibilities are a direct tie and connection to who you are, your identity, your place within the context of nationhood.”
Furthermore, it is also not a good idea to dress up as anything related to Día de los Muertos, which is a Mexican holiday. It is celebrated on November 2nd this year, and honors family and friends who have passed away.
Halloween is a great time to dress up and enjoy yourself but having a little discretion makes it easier for everyone to have fun.