Cultural Appropriation

Dear Emily Carr Families,

As many of you know, the staff and students at Emily Carr Public School have undertaken a considerable amount of learning in the past year around Indigenous rights, human rights, and equity. Specifically, we have focused on anti-black racism, discriminatory language, Indigenous rights, truths, and realities, and cultural appropriation. An overview of this learning has also been shared with our School Council at our School Council meetings throughout the year.

Throughout this process, our learning has been guided by the HDSB Human Rights Equity Action and Accountability Plan: The Way Forward and our HDSB Multi Year Plan 2020-2024. Our learning has been supported by Tammy Hardwick, HDSB Instructional Program Lead First Nations, Inuit, Metis Education K-12, Stephen Paquette, HDSB Indigenous Knowledge Guide, and Mary Marshall HDSB System Principal, Equity and Inclusive Education.

We know that our learning is only effective when it is put into practice. In other words, when we know better, we need to do better. As we have come to learn and understand more deeply about Indigenous rights, truths, and realities, and cultural appropriation, it is clear that we need to continue to put our learning into action and as a school, do better. Over this past year we have begun the process of identifying and addressing aspects of cultural appropriation of Indigenous culture in our building. Specifically, we have addressed the following:

  • Removing from circulation of our school letterhead that depicts Haida art of two eagles

  • Removing coloured glass that depicts an Indigenous medicine wheel at the front of the school and on the west side of the school

  • Removing an Indigenous medicine wheel incorporated into games painted on our black top

  • Removing the wood carving that mimics a totem pole in our foyer main entrance

Our next step is to address our school mascot and emblem. The name “Thunderbirds” and the image depicted in our school emblem has been culturally appropriated from Indigenous culture. Therefore, starting in the 2021-22 school year, we will begin a process of selecting a new mascot with a corresponding emblem. We know that this process will be a significant community building event that will bring us closer together as we re-envision Emily Carr Public School and its place in our community. We are excited at the opportunity to move forward in a way that is respectful and inclusive of all our students, families and staff. We will share more details of this process in the fall, but know that students and student voice will be at the centre of our work moving forward.

Thank you for your support

Resources on Cultural Appropriation

Susan Dion - Appropriation (5 min)

Please note that in this video the term ‘Aboriginal’ is used. The umbrella term for First Nations, Inuit and Métis that should be used at this time is Indigenous.

Appropriation and Commodification of Cultural Heritage

Presented by the Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage Project.

Appropriation 'We are NOT your mascots, we are human beings' - Jesse Wente interview with Matt Galloway on appropriation