Four days ago, several news outlets were in a tizzy over a woman allegedly
eating a raw bird
on the Montreal Metro. Since then, the woman in the viral
video has identified herself as Christina David, 22, and has clarified that she was merely plucking the bird, not eating it (despite this assertion, the media that wrongly reported Christina was
the bird have not changed their headlines or added an addendum).
A resident of Montreal since 2010, Christina grew up in Wakeham Bay and Kuujjuaq, Nunavik. Nunavik is the northernmost part of Quebec and is home to about 12,000 inhabitants, over 90 percent of whom are Canadian Inuit. This includes Christina, who has become an unlikely spokesperson for Inuit culture and traditions.
VICE spoke to Christina over the phone to get her take on her newfound notoriety, the reaction on the internet, and what it means to be an Inuk in modern day Canada. What’s clear from talking to the young woman is that while cultural norms, food safety, and public transit etiquette all played into the depluming debacle, the crux of Christina’s motivation and experience is simple. Ultimately, this is just a story about a girl who was elated to get a rare taste of home—but not so hungry that she would eat it uncooked and in public.
VICE: So, what exactly was happening on that metro car?
Christina David: I didn’t really care who was watching or where I was, actually. I saw my aunt that day and my aunt gave me some of my country food—ptarmigan—and I was so excited I just wanted to prepare it before I got home. So I was preparing it inside a plastic bag. And I wasn’t eating it!
For our readers who do not know, what is country food?
Country food—my country food from up north—meaning caribou meat, salmon, fish, seal, ptarmigan, geese, and there’s a lot more.
So it’s wild food you can get from the land?
Yeah, from my country, from my village.
You’ve called yourself a real Inuk forever; how does country food relate to being Inuk?
It means that I won’t lose my culture. It means I’m never going to lose my Inuk culture that my ancestors taught us up north.
How long had it been since you’d had country food before this ptarmigan?
It was about two years, before I got that ptarmigan. That’s why I couldn’t wait to get home! So I prepared it before I came home. Imagine.
Many sources wrongly reported that you were eating the bird raw…
No, I didn’t eat it actually. They were just exaggerating.
Why do you think people exaggerated?
Well, I don’t know, because I guess they’ve never seen anything like this before.
Media outlets are also reporting that you may face some criminal charges and that the police are looking for you; what’s going on with that?
I actually got a message on Facebook from a detective, and I’m going to meet up with him tomorrow. He would like to speak with me about the incident, you know. They just want to understand the situation, like everybody else, like if I need help or not. But I don’t need help, so for sure I’m going to talk to them, and I won’t get any charges. I know, because everybody supports me. And I was not wrong, and I’m just a positive person. I’m not a crazy person, like that, like everybody thinking I’m crazy and I need psychologist and these things. No.
How did that make you feel, when you read that you were going to be criminally charged?
I couldn’t believe it! I was actually very surprised. I went to the Esso and the girl who works there told me that I’m in the newspapers. I’m like, no way. So I checked and I’m like, oh my god, I couldn’t believe my eyes how much of a big deal they made out of it. Like, it’s not a big deal, really.
Some people are saying that they don’t have an issue with your culture or country food, they just think the whole thing was unsanitary, that you just shouldn’t be plucking a bird on the subway because it’s not clean. Do you have anything to say to that?
I did it in a plastic bag. Like, I wasn’t doing it anywhere on the floor or whatever. I was just doing it inside a plastic bag. I was just taking off the feathers, just preparing it before I got home.
The video and all your interviews—do you think they will change people’s views about Inuit culture?
Everybody supports me. That’s all I know. Every day I get at least 50 messages saying, “I support you.” They’re saying, “I’m happy that you still have your own culture, you support your own culture. It’s a nice thing that you don’t let your culture go away, like everybody else.” Everybody is even saying like, everybody should just look at what they eat. My food is completely natural.
Anything else you’d want to say?
All I want to say is that I am really sorry to the people that were inside the metro that got hypnotized by whatever I was doing.
Why do you feel you have to apologize to them?
I don’t know, because like, they puked, and like you know. I don’t know. That’s why.
That’s what they were saying.
How does that make you feel?
It doesn’t make me feel anything bad, but that’s why I just have to say sorry to the people that got disgusted in that metro. Even though it’s something that you don’t need to say sorry for, but I’m a nice person, I’d rather say sorry.
Back to the bird—all anybody talks about is that you were plucking off the feathers, but what I want to know is what did you do with it when you got home?
I cleaned it with water and I took out the things inside. I cut onions, I cut mushrooms, and I just put it in a pan and I cooked it. I cooked the mushrooms and the onions first. And then I put them inside the bird. Then I put it in a pan and I made it crispy. And I made rice. Rice with soya sauce.
Did you share it with anyone?
No. All the people I hang out with are not Inuit. I don’t really get to eat my country food every day so I ate it all. I was so happy to be eating it. @_anubha