Native Village Youth and Education News

May 1, 2009 Issue 198
Volume 1

Kiwis not sweet on Inuit tourist's complaints

New Zealand: An Canadian Inuit woman made headlines and enemies in New Zealand after calling a popular candy derogatory and racist.

Veevee Parsons, 21, was in New Zealand for a four-month trek when she walked into a store and saw popular  marshmallow candies called "Eskimos." On the bag was a smiling face peeking out of a fur-trimmed parka beside an igloo. Inside the bag, colorful marshmallows were shaped like people bundled up for winter.

"I think the term 'Eskimo' can almost be related to the term 'savage' or 'Indian' or maybe even the 'n-word' for African-American people," said Veevee Parsons.  She said the word was originally an insult meaning "eater of raw flesh ... As a kid, I used to be teased by that name. They used to call me a dirty Eskimo girl." 

Veevee mentioned her distaste to a television reporter. That led to media interviews across New Zealand which have outraged many Kiwis (New Zealanders). Among them:

"Will the Inuit stop clubbing fur seals to death? We don't come to your country and tell you how to live."

"What's wrong with calling people Eskimos? Or should I say `Snow Dwelling Indigenous Persons in Dire Need of a Lighter?"'

Veevee is surprised by the attacks. "I'm just blown away by all this attention. I'm like, 'You're serious? You're going to support a little figure of a candy rather than somebody's human rights? 

"But I'm happy because I believe it's a step forward for the people of all the world to recognize the Inuit people as a nation ... we're not just living in igloos anymore."

The Cadbury Pascall company has defended what it calls one of its most sought-after products.  "Last year we produced 19 million individual Eskimos," said spokesman Daniel Ellis. "We have no intention to rename, reshape or remove the product."

Despite the backlash, Veevee has received support from some New Zealanders which includes an interview on a Maori television show. She said the historic plights and stereotypes of both indigenous groups are similar.

Parsons will send packages of Eskimos candy to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak to raise their awareness of the product. In the 1970s, Canada officially replaced the term "Eskimo" with the term "Inuit."

"Fancy New Zealand ending up breaking off relations with Canada because of a single lolly!"  wrote one New Zealand news reporter.

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/622751

 

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