Colleen Simard is a respected columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press and Troy Media. She's also a mom of two, an Ojibway and passionate writer on First Nations issues. And besides all of that it appears she is a forgiving person who likes Justin Bieber.
You might recall that Bieber, the Canadian pop star, recently made questionable remarks about his aboriginal heritage and First Nations people getting "free gas", which they don't. The 18-year-old, who seems to live with a microphone thrust in his face, told Rolling Stone magazine that he was "actually part Indian. I think Inuit or something? I'm enough percent that in Canada I can get free gas."
Colleen Simard on Justin Bieber
There were a number of First Nations leaders, and non-First Nations leaders, who condemned the Biebs for what they considered to be thoughtless, arrogant and, for some, racists remarks. But not Simard, in a Winnipeg Free Press column titled Let's cut the Biebs some slack she came out in defence of the Never Say Never Kid.
"My guess is Bieber has a treaty card and maybe a family member was teasing him and told him that he could get free gas with it. I remember telling my own son that yarn a few times when he was a kid," Simard wrote. "You can't get free gas, but you can get a discount on gas on some reserves if you have a treaty card."
She feels "Some people are too quick to judge. We should be embracing the kid for being proud and open about his aboriginal heritage. As the saying goes, you need to walk a few miles in their moccasins before you judge someone - or in Justin's case, pull a few flashy dance moves. We should be welcoming Justin, not chiding him."
Simard and Bieber both 'Believe'
And just in case you think the writer with a generous heart and a penchant for cute Canadian pop singers with some aboriginal heritage, is simply gaining a few points from Bieber fans, the reality is that she thinks he can be a positive role model to First Nations kids. She seemed to reference Bieber's newest album, 'Believe' in saying so.
"Bieber acknowledging his aboriginal heritage sends a good message to youth of every colour," Simard wrote. "Aboriginal people are talented, hard-working, and yes, even cute. And you really can do anything if you work hard and believe in your dreams. For any negative effect he's had, he's created a thousand times more positive vibes. Hey, I'm still a 'belieber.'"
For the record, this writer is, too.