Emily Hampshire plays cynical, secretly soft motel receptionist/owner, Stevie, in Schitt’s Creek (2015-2020). We loved her on the show, and saw the latest mashup on her Instagram, featuring her with a close friend, Nico Tortorella. In the post, she referred to him as her “spirit animal” (since changed to “kindred spirit”). Her comment immediately inspired a response from @rouge_84, who said, “I’m a big fan and request with love that you not use the term spirit animal in this context. This is a term which can carry much meaning for indigenous peoples on this continent/Turtle Island.”
Hampshire responded by saying: “Thank u for the education. Done and grateful for knowing this.”
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Of course, @rouge_84 was not the only one to respond. Karen Killjoy (@karen_killjoy) says: “This is so cool, but is there anyway we can convince you to stop using the expression ‘spirit animal?’ Indigenous folks have requested it not be used as it is a very important thing for them and not to be taken lightly by non-indigenous folks.”
Again, Hampshire responds, “thanks for letting me know about this. I didn’t know about that but very grateful for the educating and have changed it.” She continued to respond to others on her thread, apologizing, and saying, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know it was offensive. But now that I do, I will Obvs. Stop.”
Why We Love Emily’s Response!
This is not the first time that a celebrity has made a culturally insensitive and inappropriate comment or gesture. We all hope that they would avoid situations where they would be offensive, but some celebrities simply don’t care. In fact, the controversy gets them trending. Hampshire’s approach appeared to be wildly different.
When her fans explained to Hampshire why her comment was offensive to Indigenous people, she immediately fixed it and apologized. The concept of “spirit animal” is a deeply meaningful and spiritual thing for Indigenous people, not to be used casually. She thanked each fan for educating her and quickly changed the caption. It was a great teaching moment and refreshing to see everyone involved be so considerate and polite.
Response From Emily’s Fans
Hampshire’s fans appreciated her wonderful, immediate response. Laura Ann Toal (@laura.ann.toal) says: “I love how beautifully respectful this whole conversation was.Thank you Emily for listening to the concerns of your followers, but also thank you followers for doing it in such a lovely, educational way. If only we could all always be so gentle with one another, wouldn’t the world be much nicer!!” And her other fans responded in much the same way.
Still other followers (@johnnylillibridgereddy) said, “I didn’t know the contemporary context of this term either…. Thank you for making this a conversation and educating many more! 👏👏👏 I will not use that expression anymore.”
It’s so refreshing to see a (mostly) kind and friendly learning moment like this, where it could have blown up into something angry and vitriol. I love the tone and message, and I wish this would stand as a primer for other celebrities and influencers on social media on how to quickly and effectively diffuse a potential “hot” situation.
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Maybe we could have more civil discussions and even disagreements via the social spheres without the murderous outrage and indignities. Hampshire proves that kindness and a simple apology really do work.
What are your thoughts on Emily Hampshire and her Instagram hubbub? We’d love to hear your comments below.
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