News   /   France   /   More   /   Society   /   Editor's Choice

Indigenous Canadian filmmaker refused entry on Cannes red carpet for his moccasins

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Kelvin Redvers, left, is seen being ejected by a security guard, right, from the Cannes red carpet, in Cannes, France, in a May 22, 2022, handout photo.

Indigenous Canadian filmmaker Kelvin Redvers has been denied entry to a red carpet event at the 75th Cannes Film Festival for wearing traditional moccasins footwear.

Redvers, who is a member of the Dene Indigenous community, grew up in the Northwest Territories of Canada where former indigenous residential schools were notorious for raping and killing students.

He told several Canadian media outlets on Saturday that forcing him to remove his flat leather footwear to enter the event made him upset, disappointed and angry.

“Whenever there's an opportunity - if there's an award show or a special event - it's really important for me to be able to bring in a bit of my Dene heritage,” he said.

He added he understood the dress codes there and was wearing the moccasins for the occasion. 

“My goal was to wear my suit, and my bowtie and my Dene moccasins, which are formal, they're cultural. And they're still sort of elegant and classy. I had no reason to believe that they wouldn't fit on the red carpet.”

The brown moccasins had been made by his sister, and Redvers said he was "excited" to wear them at that special moment in his life.

"I grew up around my culture on the land and moccasins are a big deal," Redvers told CBC.

Redvers wore the moccasins at the festival, but security officials barred him from the red carpet over the outfit.

“I was pretty close to tears and quite upset,” Redvers said.

Redvers also told Canadian media outlets that he was only allowed to return once he had changed his shoes.

"Every time I wear them, it's (the) best feeling, to be connected to family and Dene roots," he said, adding, "It's kind of hard to process things like that. I was almost, and even now when I think about it, (it) kind of gets me a little upset. I was disappointed. I was angry."

Cultural genocide
Redvers said on Facebook after his return to Vancouver, British Columbia, that he hoped news of the Cannes Festival incident would help spread the word around "that Indigenous cultural wear is completely acceptable in formal settings like the red carpet."

In the meantime, the former Indian Residential Schools in British Columbia, and other territories, which were established by the Canadian government to assimilate the indigenous population, have a horrific past.

Fontaine, 77, says he and his classmates suffered physical and sexual abuse when he was a boy at the Fort Alexander Indian Residential School in Manitoba, Canada.

He notes that the residential school systems clearly had “cultural genocide” on their agenda.

“They decided that the best way to do that is to herd children into residential schools, forbid them to speak Indigenous language, forget about their culture,” Fontaine said. “In fact, embrace everything that was not them in terms of culture and tradition, in keeping with federal government policy.”

To this day, the indigenous people in Canada have been faced with ongoing trauma and suffering at the hands of the colonialist powers.

Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku