The recent choice to feature a caricature of an indigenous person as a float in the SK Memorial Day parade was surprising, and to me, deeply regrettable. As a town of decent people, I hope we can both support the brave people who keep us safe and understand that a symbol like this one is deeply hurtful to much of our Native community.

While the original intention was not to cause harm, images like this actually do cause harm. Caricatures of Native people tap into a huge history of dehumanization and violence towards the indigenous populations. The American Psychological Association has called for all such mascots to be retired, citing a growing body of social science research into the damaging effects of these images, particularly on Native youth and children. An image like this aligns our town with an era of insensitivity at best - atrocities at worst - that we deserve to grow beyond.

I ask the West Kingston Fire Department to heed the request of the Native community and permanently retire this symbol. Which side of history does this town want to be on - the side that inflicted harm on the Native population or the side that takes steps towards healing it?

Bethany Vaccaro


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