Beating the Drum on Bieber

Beating the Drum

Sorry Bieber baby, no free gas for you

By Beverly Blanchard
True North Perspective
 
Beverly Blanchard is an Ojibway First Nation from Northern Ontario. She holds a degree in Economics. During the last twenty-two years, she has worked as a consultant to First Nation and Inuit organizations in a variety of disciplines including: homelessness, suicide prevention, violence prevention, childcare, HIV/AIDS, women’s issues, business planning, and economic development. She has also designed and delivered Aboriginal awareness and stress management workshops to Federal government employees. Currently, Ms Blanchard is a life strategy coach, author and energy healer in Ottawa.

It was a week of interesting articles in First Nations country this week. Justin Bieber lead the way by announcing in a Rolling Stone article that he believes that he has Indian or Inuit heritage and apparently it is enough to get him free gas.  This of course sparked outrage among some First Nations and called for a public apology.

I have no problem with people claiming Aboriginal ancestry. There are a lot of people who tell me they have some Aboriginal blood in their backgrounds. Personally, I think if your family has been in Canada for centuries you may have some First Nations ancestry somewhere in your background. It wasn’t until the mid-1800s that records were kept about who was a member of the various nations. This was done by the Indian agents to determine who was eligible for the $4 treaty payments. This $4 payment is still made today and has never been increased. I should add that I am required to fill out forms and I am sent a cheque that probably costs $30 to process.

But let’s get back to the subject of this article. I do however have a few problems with Justin Bieber’s pronouncement of his heritage. The first deals with his either or approach. The article quotes him as saying, "I'm actually part Indian. I think Inuit or something? I'm enough per cent that in Canada I can get free gas." His comment of either Indian or Inuit demonstrates his lack of understanding and knowledge of the cultures he is making claim to.

Although First Nations and Inuit may be classified under the all encompassing category as Aboriginal, they are very different cultures with different histories. Perhaps Bieber should pick up a history book and find out the differences before inferring that the Inuit are a tribe of the First Nations.

Bieber’s comment about being able to get free gas because he has the required percentage of blood further demonstrates his flippancy. It also promotes the usual stereotypes that Aboriginal people get things for free.  A stereotype that is perpetuated enough in the media.

Firstly here in Canada, First Nations do not get gas for free. If gas is purchased off reserve we pay the same price as everyone else. If it is purchased on-reserve and you are a Status First Nations you do not pay one of the taxes on gas but you still pay for gas.

Which leads me to the keyword in that last statement namely Status. The words ‘Status First Nation’ means that you are a member of a band and registered under the Indian Act of Canada. Under the Indian Act the Canadian government is responsible and has legal obligations to First Nations. It is only First Nations that are governed by the Indian Act. The Inuit are not and have never been governed by the Indian Act.

One wonders why Justin Bieber feels the need to associate himself with either of these cultures or why the comment came up in the interview. Word has it that he was wearing a Chicago Black Hawks baseball cap. If that is what led to the question and Bieber’s comment perhaps both Bieber and the interviewer should take some Aboriginal awareness workshops.

Or perhaps Justin Bieber should take out a subscription to Ancestry.ca and do some research on his background before he makes claims to Aboriginal ancestry.

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Comments

Or maybe, he hates picking up a newspaper, and not see his name in it, and so needs to say or do stupid things to remediate the problem.

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