Justin Bieber sparked an online outrage by his racist comment, calling Canadian aboriginals Indians and alleging that he can get free gas for sharing their heritage.
"I'm actually part Indian," Bieber told Rolling Stone magazine in July. "I think Inuit or something? I'm enough percent that in Canada I can get free gas."
Bieber's offensive comments have the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples to speak up on the age-long battle they have fought against the stereotyping of their identity.
"That's a term that our people in Canada have been moving away from for years," Dwight Dorey, vice-chief of the Congress, told the Globe and Mail. "We have enough issues with racism and stereotyping."
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In Canada, the term for aboriginals used to be Eskimo, which in the Cree language means "eaters of meat." The word has been replaced by Inuit. While the federal agency overseeing the minority is still called the Department of Indian Affairs, a steady transition to the term "First Nations" has been made in recent years.
The term for aboriginals has been steadily replaced in recent years by First Nations, although the federal agency that oversees the minority is still called the Department of Indian Affairs.
Bieber's belief that aboriginal people are "entitled to free gas is simply not true," said Betty Ann Lavallée, the Congress' national chief.
"These kinds of remarks are another example of what Aboriginal Peoples in Canada struggle with every day," she said.
"It promotes the misconception that we are somehow getting a free ride. This simply is not the case and we are concerned that many people may believe what he said."
The truth is that accredited citizens only get a tax break when they buy gas on reservations. Despite the backlash flooding to Bieber for his insensitive comments, the Canadian heartthrob was excused for his young age.
"Given that Mr. Bieber is still a young man, and unaware of the facts here, I personally don’t think he should be beat up over this comment," Dorey said. "We don’t think he was trying to be malicious, or making a joke of Aboriginal issues.”
Lavallée said she would be happy to help Justin out in finding out more about his heritage.
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