“Perry Bellegarde was elected National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations in December 2014. Nearly half a year into his term, The Agenda checks in to see what issues he’s prioritized and what progress he’s made on longstanding concerns such as land claims, education and missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls.“
Five minutes into the interview, I noticed his accent markedly change, from speaking to an audience of Canadians (almost all non-Native), to his Native audience.
So much for the notion of a departure from business as usual for a Native leader, in acting differently than a typical politician with regard to appealing to his particular audience.
He followed in the footsteps of President Obama and Hillary Clinton, who adopted a foreign accent specifically to appeal to their audience.
I understand the idea of appealing to one’s audience, but unless you’re immigrating to another nation or speaking a completely different language, for me, it’s a type of deception to markedly change your accent from one audience to the next, just to appeal to them. When I attended the 2009 Rethinking AIDS Conference in Oakland, California, I remember an American attendee point out my Canadian accent, and I realize that he was somewhat making fun of it for its distinctiveness and stereotypical Canadianness, but for me it is a symbol of my personal identity, and I don’t intend to change it just to curry better favour with an audience whose accents may be significantly different than mine.