Appropriation is when a non-Indigenous person mimics Indigenous cultural practices, art or craft for profit without consent, permission, or any cultural relationship to the item or practice. Many “Indigenous” items for sale in non-Indigenous owned tourist shops, art galleries and museums across Canada are knockoffs that have been appropriated. Cultural appropriation also includes the ways in which Indigenous stories, history and traditions have been repurposed, told and sold in popular culture, as costumes, and in the media — without their involvement or consent.
Truly appreciating Indigenous works honours the person and the culture behind them. Take time to learn about the Indigenous artists and where they are from. Know that if they are selling a piece, they want you to wear it. Sacred items and regalia have great cultural significance and should not be purchased or worn without explicit permission. Purchasing authentic Indigenous goods supports Indigenous people taking back control over how cultures and stories are represented. It also ensures that our artists and communities receive the economic benefit they deserve.