Photos surface of Conservative candidate at B.C. event with people in blackface

The controversial “Black Peter” character has been a feature at Sinterklaas celebrations

The Conservative Party has confirmed Cloverdale-Langley City candidate Tamara Jansen attended and rented out her greenhouse for a local event that featured performers in blackface.

“Ms. Jansen was at the event but did not organize it,” said Daniel Schow, press secretary to Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer.

He confirmed organizers rented one of the Jansen family’s greenhouses for an event.

He noted that Jansen did not wear blackface.

“Unlike Justin Trudeau, our candidate did not dress up in blackface three times and lie about it,” Schow said.

“Blackface is racist. Anybody who has ever applied it has no place in this election or in our party,” he added.

Allegations that Jansen was involved in the event began to circulate on Twitter on Thursday morning, in the wake of the news that Prime Minister Trudeau had worn blackface or brownface several times, most recently when he dressed as Aladdin at an Arabian Nights-themed party at the Vancouver school where he was a teacher in 2001.

READ MORE: Third instance of Trudeau in skin-darkening makeup emerges

The local events were Sinterklaas celebrations, Dutch family holiday events at which St. Nicholas meets children.

The annual events have attracted a significant amount of controversy in recent years due to the Black Peter character, known as Zwarte Piet in Dutch. Black Peter is usually described as St. Nicholas’s Moorish servant, but he is traditionally portrayed by a white person in black makeup.

Photos from a Sinterklaas event website show that multiple Black Peter characters were involved in events over the last few years. By 2016 and 2017, some of the Black Peters were still in blackface, but many others were in bright orange, purple, or blue face makeup instead.

Photos from the 2018 event posted online do not show any performers in blackface.

Controversy over the events in the Lower Mainland almost a decade ago resulted in a Sinterklaas event at the New Westminster Quay being cancelled. Dutch-Canadian proponents of the event have argued it is traditional and not meant to be racist, but there has been considerable controversy over the Black Peter character in the Netherlands as well.

Subsequent events have been held in the Fraser Valley, including in Langley and Cloverdale.

Jansen is well-known locally for the GLOW Christmas and Harvest celebrations which were held at her family’s Milner Gardens greenhouses until Agricultural Land Reserve rules forced a move earlier this year.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Stranger in truck grabs boy walking home from school in Kelowna

The 11-year-old boy escaped the incident, RCMP are investigating

Okanagan group calls for inclusive COVID-19 recovery plan

RAMA Okanagan wants full immigration status as part of COVID-19 recovery

Peachland residents march for better forest management

The Peachland march was one of many like it across B.C.

Interior Health reports three additional COVID-19 cases in region

The number of cases in the region since the beginning of the pandemic are now at 492

Central Okanagan School District facilitates West Kelowna road extension

Land dedication allows 11-lot subdivision at Webber and Inverness roads to proceed

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

‘This is a very difficult sentencing’; Judge delays Okanagan manslaughter trial to next week

The courts heard Friday that Bourque “did not intend to cause harm” but that her actions were “reckless”

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

Most Read