Module 2 -Post 4: Inuit Cultural Appropriation: Paul Waterlander

I saw this headline surfing the Web. ”

Nunavut woman accuses U.K. fashion label of appropriating Inuit design

This is a perfect example of how a corporation appropriates Indigenous culture for profit.  Here is the story:

Salome Awa says she was furious to discover that a U.K. fashion label had unveiled a sweater with a design that looks nearly identical to one created by her great-grandfather.

But more than anger, the Nunavut woman said she felt shocked that her ancestor’s unique design had been taken without permission.

“I went through all the garments and there it was: my great-grandfather’s garment, designed exactly the same way as he envisioned,” Awa, a CBC Nunavut morning show producer, told the Star in a telephone interview on Thursday morning.

“I was shocked, actually, because it’s sacred.”

Her great-grandfather was a shaman, Awa explained. He had asked his wife to make a unique parka with hands on the front to protect him from someone who might try to push him into the ocean and drown him.

Her great-grandfather was a shaman, Awa explained. He had asked his wife to make a unique parka with hands on the front to protect him from someone who might try to push him into the ocean and drown him.

Danish explorer Knud Rasmussen took a photo of her great-grandfather in the parka during his travels and visits with Inuit families in Canada’s Arctic in the 1920s, Awa said.

The photo, which dates to 1922, was published in the book Northern Voices: Inuit Writing in English.

“To wear it (the design) is almost like (a) mockery of my great-grandfather’s spiritual well-being,” Awa said. “There’s no other garment like it anywhere else in this world.”

The key components that make this cultural appropriation are: 1) the design was used without permission from the family that own the rights to the design.  2) the company that stole the design did it in order to make a profit.

Link: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/11/26/nunavut-woman-accuses-uk-fashion-label-of-appropriating-inuit-design.html

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