Bieber's Indian comment rankles in Canada

Aug. 4, 2012 at 12:38 PM
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TORONTO, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- Teen pop idol Justin Bieber has riled Canadian aboriginals by calling them Indians and suggesting he shares their ancestral roots, aboriginal leaders say.

In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine late last month, the 18-year-old singer stirred anger with a suggestion he should be entitled to free gasoline because of his alleged Indian heritage.

"I'm actually part Indian," Bieber told the magazine. "I think Inuit or something? I'm enough percent that in Canada I can get free gas."

Dwight Dorey, vice-chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples told the Globe and Mail that Bieber's comments were offensive on several fronts, particularly the use of the Indian label.

"That's a term that our people in Canada have been moving away from for years," Dorey said. "We have enough issues with racism and stereotyping."

In Canada, 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. The term Eskimo, which in the Cree language means "eaters of meat," has been replaced by Inuit.

As for Bieber, the Globe said he was misinformed about Indians getting free gas, as accredited citizens only get a tax break when they buy gas on reservations.

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