March 29, 2012

Stereotypical Inuk adoption poster

Children's Aid Society under fire for Inuk baby adoption posterThe Children's Aid Society in Ottawa is being criticized this week for advertising an Inuk baby available for adoption on posters.

The poster, which was distributed this week, says the society is seeking a "strong Inuit family" to adopt the three-month-old boy. The poster describes the boy as "calm and loving" and says he "loves being cuddled."

Some say it makes the boy sound like a puppy up for adoption, and the poster is also littered with images of traditional Inuit Inukshuks, parkas and qulliqs–Inuit oil lamps.

"The way it was worded, it sounds like a marketing tool. It is a marketing tool, and we found it quite offensive that that kind of wording would be used now, in 2012," said Okalik Eegeesiak from the Qikiqtani Inuit Association.
Comment:  You can see the poster here:

Doucment (PDF)

The poster looks like an amateur community flyer with icons scattered around the margin. Whoever created it had enough sense to include genuine Inuit artifacts, and to skip the usual igloo, dogsled, and polar bear. But it shows a child in a parka and what looks like a doll in a parka.

The problems is that the artifacts imply the boy comes from a primitive and exotic culture. It romanticizes the Inuit as living closer to nature, unsullied by Western civilization. It implies you'd be rescuing the boy from his backward existence--like rescuing a stray dog from the streets and giving it a home.

The alternative is to use a photo of the boy as he really is: dressed in regular baby clothes, swaddled in blankets, sleeping in a crib, etc. Just describe him neutrally, without the pseudo-puppy talk. I don't think you need a hard sell when you've got a cute baby to adopt.

For more on Eskimo stereotypes, see Cartoon About Eskimo Baptism and Suzuki's Dog-Sled Commercial.

Below:  "Okalik Eegeesiak, from the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, said the poster's wording is unacceptable." (CBC)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Inukshuk? Well, now I know where Apache Chief's magic word came from.

More to the point, yeah, I'm pretty sure Eskimos live like everyone else today.

You'd be surprised, Rob. Most babies end up in foster care.