Justin Bieber’s feet are mostly famous for dancing but he currently has one resting in his mouth.
Bieber has sparked some controversy after a comment about his supposed native heritage offended the very people he tried to claim. “Part Indian… I think Inuit or something? I’m enough percent that in Canada I can get free gas,” the native Canadian told Rolling Stone magazine.
The comment upset some Native Indian groups because Bieber is promoting a stereotype that they are trying to combat. “These kinds of remarks are another example of what Aboriginal Peoples in Canada struggle with every day,” said Betty Ann Lavellee, National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples to Entertainment Wise. “It promotes the misconception that we are somehow getting a free ride. This simply is not the case and we are concerned that many people may believe what he said.”
Her vice-chief Dwight Dorey adds, “We have enough issues with racism and stereotyping. A young, high-profile entertainer like Justin has a huge following. He has a major impact on young people. That concerns me.”
Bieber’s assertion that Aboriginals get free gas is a common misconception. Canadian Aboriginals are exempt from a 14.7 percent gas tax if they have a gas card issued by the Canadian Ministry of Finance and they purchase the gas on a reservation.
Dorey doesn’t think Bieber meant any harm with his comments. “Given that Mr. Bieber is still a young man, and unaware of the facts here, I personally don’t think he should be beat up over this comment,” he continued. “We don’t think he was trying to be malicious, or making a joke of aboriginal issues.” Dorey also said the Congress would help Bieber find out more about his heritage if he is interested.
Other groups are also looking at this as an educational moment. The Museum of Inuit Art in Toronto is offering free admission to Bieber fans for the whole month of August and invited the “Baby” singer for a tour of his own. Bieber’s camp has not said anything about the incident.