An Inuvik resident says she has become a target of online bullying after she was accused on social media of exploiting Inuvialuit culture through her reproduction of traditional arts and crafts.
Fatima Tin, a regular arts and crafts vendor at Inuvik’s Arctic Market, has lived in Inuvik for five years now and said that she started creating handmade mitts and moccasins years ago out of her love for crafting.
She said that she’s never run into any problems regarding her work in the past, but that changed after a March 16 Arctic Market event when she received a Facebook message asking her to refrain from creating such crafts.
“Hi Fatima, I am an Inuvialuit crafter and take great offence that you are actively making and selling Inuvialuit crafts and you are not Inuvialuk,” one woman wrote. “You are exploiting our culture and taking monies away from other crafters who make a living off producing authentic Inuvialuit crafts!”
Tin, who is of Burmese descent, said after ignoring the request, she began to receive hateful messages from people online through Facebook.
“Some of them are saying ‘tie her down to the willow’, ‘she’s not from here’, or ‘shes being disrespectful’,” Tin said. “I have never made one comment, my kids answered and that’s it.”
She added she fears for her own safety, and that her two daughters feel threatened as well.
“A hate crime just happened in New Zealand, and they’re saying, ‘Mom, why don’t you just come to Vancouver for a couple of weeks? What if something happens?’” she said.
She described one instance at work where she sat down for a coffee break and got up to answer a phone call.
“I came back, and just grabbing that coffee, I thought somebody put something in it. I felt bad. Like what if? So I just dumped it. I’m fearful,” she said.
Despite the backlash online, she said that she’s been flooded with support from residents throughout town.
“I went to work the other day and the Gwich’in and Inuvialuit just waited for me and gave me hugs,” she said. “They said … just keep doing what you’re doing.”
As for the Arctic Market and her crafts, she said that she won’t let the bullying deter her from doing what she loves.
“This is what I’ve been doing. I live here …Why should I stop? I’m not in anyone’s way,” she said. “If you don’t like my stuff, you don’t have to buy it.”