Should Festivals Take a Stand Against Cultural Appropriation?

by Chloé Laguë on Mai 2, 2017 - 1:51pm

Summary of the article:

During the summer of 2015, the music festival Osheaga banned First Nations’ traditional headdresses. The subject was relevant because several controversial situations concerning the cultural appropriation of First Nations’ attributes in festivals had arisen in previous weeks. This ban was a big step against cultural appropriation, as Osheaga is the biggest music festival to ban traditional headdresses. In the media, people had mixed reactions to this new rule: some were unhappy, but most thought that this ban was beneficial. Once the public understood the reason behind it, reactions were positive. Unfavorable reactions came from the incomprehension of the significance of the headdress. People who though that it was unfair that only First Nations could wear headdresses to the festival did not know that a person from a First Nation would never find it appropriate to wear a traditional headdress to attend a music festival.

“It’s about celebrating the conquest of indigenous people. People don’t understand how degrading it is to have a sacred object within a culture stolen and appropriated and misused in an inappropriate setting.” - Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, head of the Department of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba (Marsh 1)

For Sinclair, this ban is a good reaction from Osheaga to cultural appropriation in festivals, as it shows that this kind of disrespectful behavior will not be tolerated anymore.


My opinion on the subject:

I think that Osheaga’s ban of traditional First Nations’ headdresses is beneficial both for people from First Nations and for the rest of the population. First nations will no longer have to witness cultural appropriation of their attributes, while the rest of the population will have a chance to get educated regarding the significance and importance of appropriated First Nations’ headdresses. As the author of the article said, I believe that most of the anger coming from this rule is related to ignorance. This ban has the potential to provide long-term benefits regarding the fight against cultural appropriation of attributes that come from First Nations.

Osheaga made a statement with this ban, and I think that it is important to acknowledge that they chose to defend First Nations against cultural appropriation while knowing that there was a possibility that the policy would backfire and make the festival lose popularity.

Overall, believing that Osheaga’s move against cultural appropriation was beneficial and courageous comes from my values and beliefs. I strongly believe that when you are in position of power, it is your duty to defend the rights of minorities and to educate society against injustice. I think the ban was courageous because, in our actual society, people often still get mad when they don’t understand why they are not aloud to do something. Since there is still a lot of incomprehension surrounding the significance of headdresses, it took audacity to defend First Nations’ rights even though it was not in Osheaga’s best interest because of the risk of boycott coming from the feeling of anger and injustice of those who did not understand the reason of the ban. If we look at the situation from an economic point of view, this ban was risky for the company. I think that more festivals should take a stand against cultural appropriation because they have a lot of influence on youth. It would be refreshing to live in a society where people understood the impacts of cultural appropriation, because someone understanding this concept understands that it is immoral and will not appropriate things from other cultures.

Do you think that the economic risks of taking position in social and political debates will impede festivals to set “controversial” policies in place?


Works cited:

Marsh, Calum. "Osheaga's headdress ban shows festival's zero tolerance for cultural appropriation." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 17 July 2015. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.