Aboriginal poet faces backlash for calling out NHL-themed totem poles

Rebecca Thomas says she received backlash for asking a drugstore chain to remove NHL merchandise

Halifax’s former poet laureate says she has received unprecedented online backlash for asking a drugstore chain to remove NHL merchandise that appropriates West Coast Indigenous culture.

Rebecca Thomas, who is Mi’kmaw, tweeted a photo of two garden statues designed in the style of totem poles with NHL logos, asking Lawton’s Drugs why the culturally insensitive items were being sold.

RELATED: B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

Lawton’s responded to say the products would be pulled from stores, but days later Thomas said she is still receiving a stream of negative and racist messages, some saying she is mentally ill and that Indigenous people are too sensitive.

Thomas said the deluge of comments speaks to the knee-jerk reaction often seen when the country’s history of colonialism is pointed out.

She said it shows the lack of understanding many Canadians have about the significance of Indigenous art forms and how Indigenous people are still disrespected.

RELATED: Replica Haida totem pole raised at B.C. park

Totem poles originate from a number of West Coast Indigenous cultures and require a potlatch ceremony to be raised.

The Canadian Press

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