Cultural (In)Appropriation

June 2 | 3:30am – 5:30pm
Harbourfront Centre, Studio Theatre

Presented by Ryerson University School of Fashion

Copyright of fashion design is legally not possible. Consequently, “borrowing” from other cultures is strongly encouraged and common practice amongst designers and in academic institutions.  On the flip side, copyright and protection of recognized art forms is common and legal practice, including that of many Indigenous art forms. How and can utilitarian Indigenous art forms including fashion, textiles and craft be protected? This panel discusses the legal and ethical implications of “borrowing” or “appreciating” from oppressed cultures, who benefits and profits from appropriation, and what is the protocol, if there is one, for a general consumer when wearing another cultures’ adornments. This discussion looks at ethics, integrity and protocol for creating or wearing Indigenous fashion.

Ariel Smith is an award winning nêhiyaw and Jewish filmmaker, video artist, writer, and cultural worker. Having created independent media art since 2001, much of her work has shown at festivals and galleries across Canada and internationally Ariel is largely self-taught, but honed many of her skills by becoming heavily involved in artist-run centres in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa. Her passion for artist-run culture has become an integral part of her practice. Ariel was the Director of the National Indigenous Media Arts Coalition from 2013 to 2016, and the Executive Director of imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival from 2016-2018. She is currently the Artistic Director of Native Women In The Arts and is a guest curator for an upcoming International Indigenous Quinquennial exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada.

Anjli Patel is a fashion lawyer and trademark agent who assists local, emerging, and independent designers in commercializing their creativity and protecting their ideas. After attending law school at the University of Calgary, articling at Borden Ladner Gervais, and taking Fordham University’s pioneering fashion law course in New York City, she was inspired to merge her lifelong interest in the the business of fashion with the practice of law. Anjli is an ardent supporter of local designers and is respected for her ability to speak their language

Jesse Wente is an Ojibwe writer, broadcaster, producer and speaker. Born and raised in Toronto, his family hails from Chicago and the Serpent River First Nation. Jesse is best known for his 22 years as a columnist for CBC Radio’s Metro Morning, Jesse spent 11 years with the Toronto International Film Festival, the last seven as the Head of TIFF Cinematheque. Jesse is currently co-producing his first film, a screen adaptation of Thomas King’s best-selling book, The Inconvenient Indian. An outspoken advocate for Indigenous rights and First Nations, Metis and Inuit art, he has spoken at the International Forum of Indigenous Peoples, Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, the Canadian Arts Summit and numerous Universities and Colleges. Jesse currently serves on the board of directors for the Canada Council for the Arts and the Toronto Arts Council and was recently named the inaugural recipient of the Reelworld Film Festival’s Reel Activist Award. Jesse just started a new role as the first Director of the Indigenous Screen Office in Canada.