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Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

Learn more about Indigenous Education and Cultural Services

Cultural Appropriation vs. Cultural Appreciation: What's the difference?

February 3, 2023

Cultural Appreciation: 

Definition:

As a means of broadening one's perspective and fostering relationships with others, cultural appreciation is described as an endeavour to comprehend, appreciate, and educate oneself about another culture. One shows appreciation for another person's culture when one tries to understand and learn about it to broaden their perspective and develop cross-cultural interactions. Cultural appreciation is distinct from cultural appropriation. Accepting a culture does not entail putting on clothing representative of that culture, as clothing pieces have historical value rather than serving just as costumes to be worn carelessly. We may be encouraged through social media, print media, and even television shows to embrace the individuality and beauty that comes from individuals who come from a variety of origins. Exercising care while appreciating the richness and diversity of the world's cultures and customs is essential. Culture is not a pastime or a collectable; it is an integral component of one's life, identity, and community. To begin respecting a culture that is not your own, you should start by having positive intentions and educating yourself about the culture.

Examples of how to get involved:

One of Student Life’s goals is to increase equity and inclusivity on campus so that every student may feel at home and free to be who they are. Student Life organizes gatherings and discussion forums where people may come together to learn, contribute, and advance an empathic culture at the university. 

Click here to find out more about Equity groups and workshops

Another example would be going to events to discover diverse cultures. For instance, Pangaea is an annual event hosted by Ontario Tech University and Durham College. Pangaea's goals are to showcase the numerous cultures on campus, see international performances, and sample global food.

Indigenous Education and Cultural Services is the place to go if you want a home away from home and for students to connect with Indigenous resources. Exposing yourself to diverse cultures and backgrounds is an excellent approach to widening your perspective on different cultures and backgrounds and creating inclusion. 

Click here to find out more about Indigenous Education and Cultural Services

Advocates for equality highlight parts of the campus community that need to be improved. They organize programs, initiatives, and events that involve and inspire students to behave empathetically and inclusively to support the creation of an inclusive campus community. By becoming active, you may raise various important causes and themes to yourself and make others aware of these essential concerns. 

Click here to find out more about how to get involved as an Equity Advocate

Moreover, Ontario Tech’s events calendar is a great way to stay updated on events that promote inclusiveness and learning about different cultures and backgrounds. 

Click here to view OTU's Events Calendar

Cultural Appropriation

Definition:

On the other hand, adopting a cultural element from a different culture and using it to further your goals is known as appropriation. Cultural appropriation refers to adopting customs, standards of beauty, and behaviours from another culture that are not one's own.

Examples:

Feather headdresses are extremely common to see people wearing during music festivals. On the other hand, they are utilized only as religious and social status symbols within a particular tribe; the festivals in question have nothing to do with them. Although it is not strictly prohibited, it is essential to identify the appropriate environment if you wish to wear the item. The Coachella environment has little relation to the culture from which individuals borrow. 

Popular media also has a significant influence, and many pop culture artists may not realize the significance and may demonstrate cultural appropriation. For example, at the 2013 MTV Movie Awards, Selena Gomez performed her hit "Come and Get it" while wearing a bindi on her forehead. There is much debate about singers wearing bindis as a fashion statement, which is cultural appropriation. The bindi "is not supposed to be flung around freely for seductive effects or as a fashion ornament aiming at commercial avarice," according to Hindi statesman Rajan Zed. Married ladies wear bindis, representing the third eye or flame as a lucky religious and spiritual sign. In Hinduism, a long-standing custom, the bindi is of utmost sacred significance. This is a concern since musicians don't always wear the bindi with the context of their religion or culture in mind. But instead, it is worn purely for fashionable or trendy reasons, which is disrespectful to religion.

For instance, costume stores may showcase costumes of Indigenous costumes, traditional headdresses, and more around Halloween. Instead of wearing and encouraging these costumes, which are insulting to the culture, people should seek to ban them and take the time to learn about their true meaning.

What are some ways to honour a culture without taking advantage of it?

  • Be an Ally!
  • Look into some of the examples provided above on how to get involved!
  • Look at your traditions and values. One of the finest ways to comprehend and respect different cultures is to be aware of your own culture.
  • Accept and value cultural diversity.
  • Encourage healthy conversation based on these discrepancies.
  • Avoid accessorizing with religious objects or symbols from other cultures.

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