This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Fashion should push limits without disrespecting sacred objects.

The winner of the last duel on Internet filters was Laila Yuile with 62%.

This week’s topic:

Did H&M do the right thing in pulling faux feather headdresses off the market in Canada?

Shopping with her daughter in a Vancouver mall recently, an Ojibwa-Mohawk woman named Kim Wheeler from Winnipeg came across a product in an H&M store that offended her.

In among the accessories — destined to be worn by trendy young women this summer — were headdresses with coloured faux feathers in pink, purple and pastel green. Stunned, Wheeler took a photo of the product and attached it to her email to H&M customer service. Six days later, H&M removed the headdress accessories from its shelves across Canada, and the chain’s summer fashion line was left with one less item.

Read Brent Stafford’s column

Total number of complaints received? Three — not including Wheeler’s. But I think H&M did the right thing.

Why? Because many people who are offended never complain – they just don’t buy.

Cultural issues aside, let’s address the fashion component on its own. When did overpriced, cheap-looking feather headdresses become summer wear? While this kind of stuff might fly overseas, where the history of First Nations isn’t as widely known, I can’t even begin to wonder what H&M was thinking here in North America…

Read the rest of this weeks column at the link that follows, and don’t forget: You have 48hrs to comment and voting continues all week!

A reminder as well, don’t forget to check back this week for the followup BNSF story, and others. Until then, head back to the main page and scroll down to read recent posts, or to the Best Of to review past favourites ( I’m in the process of updating the page)

5 thoughts on “This weeks column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Fashion should push limits without disrespecting sacred objects.

  1. I tried to post this to Brent Stafford’s column at 24 hrs but comments are closed: First Nations are not JUST a “special interest” group. First Nations are constitutionally first in right to resources and land in this country and deserve a lot more respect than is currently given.

    On this continent, there’s been a very long and hidden Genocide against First Nations. Can you find another so called “special interest” group surviving that kind of oppression? Until Canada admits the fact of genocide, out of ignorance and complacency, Canadians will continue to disrespect First Nation people.

    I hear people blame First Nations for their poverty, disregard their different cultural beliefs and issue slurs and abuse when First Nations stand for their rights. I hear debate from outside their community how First Nations should live and why they should do this and that – etc etc.. It’s time to make amends for the harm that has been done and it won’t be easy. But, we can start by respecting First Nation people who feel oppressed by insensitive actions of others. Since I/we/you don’t understand what a feathered headdress means to an Ojibwa-Mohawk person – all I/we/you need to know is that the article of clothing upset her – that’s enough to have it removed. End of story and good for H & M – no debate needed. Obviously feathers are a spiritual and sacred piece if headwear. We learned something.

    We must rebuke any and all classist, racist, negative cultural commentary that exists in our media – in out text books – in the online comments and in advertising. We need to wise up and most of all we need to respect First Nation spiritual values especially when it’s pointed out, that we’ve crossed the line by our ignorance.


  2. Three people complained………
    And a multinational chain pulls a product that was part fashion,part fun.
    One wonders what Ms Wheeler thought of the aboriginal “hunters” on North Van Dollarton Reserve that were caught illegally shooting “sacred” eagles and tearing off the feathers to sell to Headdress makers for lucrative profit a few years ago. How many eagles was it ? 20? 30?
    And then they dumped the carcasses stuffed inside garbage bags in the ditch.
    All for the almighty buck.
    Dollar Ton.
    How appropriate.

    And I wont even start on the illegal salmon fishermen hauling in net loads of fish for “religious ceremonies” ( does that include selling them in parking lots out of pick up trucks?).
    I wont even go there…………….

    Ms Wheeler should be seen and not heard.


  3. I couldn’t vote this week, as both sides took the same side: that H&M did the right thing in pulling the items, on the strength of three complaints.

    H&M have business brains, though, and they may have seen more trouble coming — so decided to pull the items (and perhaps send them to the 30 Swedish and 278 U.S. stores that somehow gathered no complaints.)

    Wearing west coast native art on jewelry, shirts and jackets has been a long-accepted practice around here — as well as beaded belts and moccasins. I didn’t see any problem with the died goose feather head-bands.


  4. Nestlé wants all of us to pay for our water if they have to re 275 million liters of water for free in hope BC .A CORPORATION DICTATING GOVT POLICY.


  5. Here’s a TransLink Website hot topic to pounce on Laila.

    “……. After testing, a pilot program will begin, followed by a transition period when both Compass Cards and tickets and, most of the passes and tickets people use now, will work on transit. This will lead to the final, complete change-over to Compass Cards late in 2013.”


    Were the Board of Directors sold a false Bill of Goods? The $200 million included the ability to use coin purchased fares cards on board buses WOULD work on the SeaBus, Skytrain, and Canada Line AND now we have a Two Tier system that doesn’t recognize each other?

    Write to your unelected Translink Directors demanding their Resignations:


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