the B.C. music festival say they're overwhelmed by the international
What started as a policy decision by the Bass
Coast Music and Arts Festival in Merritt, B.C., has exploded
into an international discussion on cultural appropriation and a
movement to stop revellers from wearing First Nation-style headdresses
to parties around the world.
The feathered headdress has become a sensitive pop culture phenomenon,
springing up in fashion shows, music videos and on the heads of
partygoers from Coachella to Bonnaroo.
But in a statement
posted last week on Facebook, Bass Coast organizers explained
that headdresses are unwelcome at this weekend's festival, which
takes place on indigenous territory, and that security would be
enforcing the ban.
'We want to be good neighbours'
Paul Brooks, the festival's communications manager, told CBC
Arts reporter Zulekha Nathoo that the ban is about respect:
has been an ongoing topic of debate within electronic music and
within festivals and our core team felt it was time to take a stand,"
"There are many Indian bands in the area, many reservations,
so we want to be good neighbours. We want to be respectful of aboriginal
people not only in the area
but across Canada and North America."
Brooks said he's received an outpouring of thanks and support
for the ban, including international media attention from Buzzfeed,
and the British online publication the
He also got a tweet of approval from Juno-award winning aboriginal
DJ group A Tribe Called Red,
who are headlining Bass Coast this year.
headdress controversy became front-page news, literally, when Pharrell
Williams wore a headdress on the cover of Elle magazine, a fashion
choice for which he later apologized.
Chanel, Victoria's Secret, H&M, Urban Outfitters and Paul
Frank have also come under fire for inappropriately using First
Nations symbols or imagery in their fashions.
Wanda Nanibush, a First Nations artist and activist in Toronto,
says that if artists really want to honour First Nations people
then they should find out what the symbols mean first.
"The headdress is a sign of honour, so really the only
way that someone like Chanel or Karl Lagerfeld? or Pharrell could
actually get one legitimately would be if they did something quite
amazing for our people, and they haven't done that, so they don't
The Bass Coast Music Festival
takes place Aug. 1-4 at the Merritt festival grounds in Merritt,