Bieber's 'free gas' comment not true, says Native group
Pop singer Justin Bieber has perpetuated the "misconception" that Natives in Canada "are somehow getting a free ride," by claiming he can get free gas because he's part Native, Canada's Congress of Aboriginal Peoples says.
"I'm actually part Indian. I think Inuit or something? I'm enough percent that in Canada I can get free gas," the Stratford, Ont., native told Rolling Stone in an interview that appears in the magazine's August edition.
The comment sparked outrage in Native communities and on Thursday, National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples Betty Ann Lavallee and vice-chief Dwight Dorey issued a joint statement calling the teen sensation's comments "simply not true."
"These kinds of remarks are another example of what Aboriginal Peoples in Canada struggle with every day. 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," the statement says.
In Ontario, the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs notes First Nations people who have a gas card don't have to pay a tax of 14.7 cents per litre on gasoline - but it's not free.
Dorey said Bieber is "still a young man" and "unaware of the facts."
"I personally don't think he should be beat up over this comment. We don't think he was trying to be malicious, or making a joke of Aboriginal issues," Dorey said, adding they are "not in a position" to confirm whether the singer is of Aboriginal descent.
Dorey and Lavallee also offered to help Bieber trace his ancestry "to find out more about his heritage."
But not everyone was as easy on the Biebs.
Ellen Gabriel, a human rights activist, used Twitter to call on Bieber to apologize to his fans.
"When (are you) going (to) apologize (to) Aboriginal (peoples) in Canada (for) disrespectful comment re: 'Free Gas' (You are) promoting racist stereotypes," she tweeted July 28.
She also asked, "If Bieber (doesn't) apologize (to) his young Aboriginal fans - (should) there (be) a boycott?"