Miss Universe Canada's totem-pole costume called 'offensive'

Miss Universe Canada is facing backlash on social media for the First Nations-inspired attire that she wore during the Miss Universe pageant's "National Costume" round last week.

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During Wednesday's iconic event, which often sees contestants wearing outlandish outfits featuring nods to their home country, Paola Nunez, 24, sported an eagle headdress with black plumage, a black bra and an elaborate bikini attached to a multi-coloured totem pole that hung down to the ground.

Totem poles are carved by First Nations peoples in the Pacific Northwest to honour their communities’ stories and lineage. Along with headdresses, they are considered sacred.

Nunez, who hails from Toronto and was born in the Dominican Republican, ended up falling short in her attempt to win the pageant, which went to Miss Philippines on Sunday.

Her costume round attire, which was designed by the Dominican fashion brand Keyther Estevez Studio, continues to incite harsh criticism on social media, with some commenters labelling it "offensive."

A totem pole for a national costume? #wtf#canada#seriously#misscanada#missuniverse @ Ottawa,… https://t.co/MFfSpfAYpi

— Robb H YYZ (@ACFAROB) December 17, 2015

Does anybody else find this horrible, or is it just me? #missuniverse#missuniversecanadapic.twitter.com/M7fO6ZGndA

— Lauren Kate (@reviewsbylauren) December 21, 2015

Natalie Ast, who identified herself as a former contestant in a Greater Toronto Area preliminary for Miss Universe Canada, said that she was "so disappointed" by Nunez's costume.

as a former @MUniCanada contestant, I'm so disappointed in our national costume https://t.co/kt5xGsljM6@cbc@GlobeStyle@TorontoStar

— Natalie Ast (@natalieast) December 17, 2015

In a blog post, Ast said that the attire made her "sick to my stomach," and said it is especially offensive considering the other steps that Canada has taken towards the "goal of reconciliation."

"This is deplorable and incredibly insensitive to our First Nations peoples," she wrote.

Nunez's attire also drew comparison to another controversial costume from last year's Miss Canada, Chanel Beckenlehner.

Beckenlehner was grilled over her decision to wear a bizarre maple leaf-adorned corset with hockey stick wing, a Stanley Cup crown and a working scoreboard attached to her back

Last year's Miss Universe Canada costume was awful, but it was only offensive to the eyes. This year's-wtf? No. pic.twitter.com/XzNNkoCSFd

— WTF (@seriouslywhattf) December 21, 2015


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