Posted on May 26, 2017

    Here's Why People Want Dollarama To Stop Selling Dreamcatchers

    Dollarama has refused to stop selling the items because they are "very popular."

    People are asking Dollarama to stop selling dreamcatchers along with items celebrating the 150th anniversary of Canada's founding.

    Christina Heyding

    A petition calling on the discount retailer to stop "appropriating Indigenous culture" has gotten more than 2,000 signatures on Change.org, and it's still gathering steam.

    Liane Zafiropoulos started the petition after she and her boyfriend, Jamie McGean, visited Dollarama and found dreamcatchers with a stereotypical depiction of an Indigenous man for sale.

    "What was disturbing was that, in addition to them being hung in the Canada Day stuff, is that there's a Canada Day flag with tacky tassles right on the dreamcatcher itself," Zafiropoulos told BuzzFeed Canada. "The tag actually says 'celebrating 150.'"

    "There's been so many hundreds of years of oppression and colonial violence against Indigenous populations," Zafirnopoulos said.

    Wondering how this #dollarama #dreamcatcher was manufactured and how it supports #Indigenous communities? Guessing… https://t.co/cvv7ARTepg

    To many Indigenous people, the founding of the country is linked directly to historical and ongoing oppression of native populations.

    As Indigenous scholar Pam Palmater wrote in NOW magazine recently, "No amount of token showcasing of Indigenous art, songs or dances in Canada's 150th celebration will stop the intergenerational pain and suffering, suicides, police abuse, sub-standard health care, housing and water, or the extinction of the majority of Indigenous languages."

    That painful legacy is the issue goes beyond just dreamcatchers to Zafiropoulos and McGean.

    Change.org

    "The issues facing indigenous people are endless. So why are we arguing about dreamcatchers? It seems insignificant, but it's a huge issue because it's tied to so much of our history," Zafiropoulos said.

    "For both of us, it's about education."

    As a teacher, Zafiropoulos said she realizes many Canadians are ignorant of Indigenous peoples' contributions to Canada's establishment and survival. For example, native peoples helped settlers live off the land when they first arrived from Europe, and First Nations fighting with Britain in the War of 1812 were pivotal in defeating the United States.

    "We would basically be living in America right now if not for that."

    Zafiropoulos has Greek and French ancestry, and McGean is a member of the Kanien’keha First Nation.

    Others are also calling out Dollarama for its dreamcatchers and other Indigenous items.

    #appropriation at it's ugliest #dollarama https://t.co/T0RsqlVX6a

    Dollarama did not respond to a request for comment. However, the company told the Toronto Star that it will continue stocking the items.

    “Given that the complaint is isolated and that dreamcatchers are actually very popular items with customers from coast to coast, we’ll continue to carry them,” a spokesperson told the newspaper.

    Zafiropoulos said she's not surprised at Dollarama's response, but she hopes it leads to more discussion and education about Canada's relationship with Indigenous people.

    wow! Dollarama says will continue to stock across Cdn because they are "very popular". Indeed as popular as cultura… https://t.co/tIwFENC5AP

    "We're not looking to rain on anyone's parade. But it's upsetting to see the disregard and the sense of entitlement, and a lot of the racism" in reaction to her and McGean's campaign.

    "Here we are, this diverse nation, and everyone's accepting of everyone, but there's still all this racism toward the native peoples."

    Ishmael N. Daro is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto. PGP fingerprint: 5A1D 9099 3497 DA4B

    Contact Ishmael N. Daro at ishmael.daro@buzzfeed.com.

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