We’re in the “Era of Exposing”

We all have our stories. In Taylor Swift’s ERAS TOUR, this uber-popular entertainer sings about the eras we’re in.

In your “Debut” era, for instance, you’re learning about yourself, or perhaps it’s your “Red” era, a time of self-evaluation and expression. If you’re in your “Fearless” era, you might be less brave than you hoped, but that’s okay. Taylor believes in you.

After following the news highlights, I’m convinced we’re collectively in our “Exposing” era, especially when it comes to those posing as Indigenous. Buffy Sainte-Marie is the most recent bombshell. Is she an American-born child of white parents or is she from the province of Saskatchewan with a medley of ancestries: Cree, Piapot First Nation, Mi’kmaq and Algonquin?

It’s easy to be duped. When my husband Paul and I lived on the west coast, we befriended the new property manager in our building. Often, he’d knock on our door at supper time, and we’d welcome him to eat with us. Who doesn’t want to get along with their landlord.

Steve told strange tales that left us doubtful, but he was always friendly and interesting. One day he invited Paul for a ride in his car; Paul noticed that all of Steve’s music was Japanese (this was before the popularity of J-pop and K-pop). Weird, based on what he told us about himself, but who were we to judge his playlist.

Then one day he was gone. Turns out Steve – a false name – was an imposter with a warrant for his arrest. That car? It belonged to a Japanese family who were out of the country for a few months. Steve would let himself into their apartment and “borrow” their keys.

What made us trust him came down to something so simple, almost insignificant: he mentioned the name of a person that Paul and I knew from our hometown. Such a small bit of info was all it took to give him credibility, despite our uncertainty about him.

Steve’s time was up. Is the same reality true for Buffy? Once the ball of falsity started to roll, there was no stopping her.

Wait. What if, with all this exposing, I discover too much about other Canadian icons I’ve loved through the eras? What if The Friendly Giant wasn’t all that friendly? With the cameras off, perhaps Friendly underpaid Jerome the Giraffe, or bullied Rusty the Rooster.

Shannon Kernaghan Little-Shan-the-Pretendian-190x300 We're in the "Era of Exposing" Humor

                             Shannon age 8, costumed for Halloween

And what if Mr. Dressup didn’t like dressing up? Maybe what he stored in the Tickle Trunk of Treasures was his single malt scotch. What a shock to my fragile psyche.

Buffy’s less fragile. At 82, nobody puts Buffy in the corner. She’s sticking to her story, or her “truth” as she calls it, while others are calling her a “Pretendian,” neither Indigenous nor Native American. She’s accused of being a “race-shifter.”

People and organizations want to be connected with a talented celebrity like Buffy. Musical talent aside, if her story is more fiction than fact, there will be disappointment and disgust by fans, friends and the many organizations that opened doors wide for her.

As for Taylor Swift’s tour, what era am in? Learning that Buffy’s ancestry might be nothing more than folklore leaves me cynical, so that drops me into “Jaded,” an era I’ve created for myself.

With such determined storytelling, Buffy Sainte-Marie has spent her life in a “Fearless” era. I’m not sure even Taylor Swift would believe in her today.

And that’s my story, jaded but true.

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