When Summerland mayor Toni Boot saw the latest Black History Month stamp issued by Canada Post, she was disappointed by the image and the wording.
The stamp shows a group of black hockey players and features the words “Colored Hockey Championship.”
It is a reference to a league in the Maritimes from 1895 to the early 1930s.
Boot, a visible minority herself, questioned the post office worker about the stamp, and also posted about it on her personal Facebook account.
“I know it is Black History Month. But, really? Commemorating segregation? And “Colored”? Not only is it spelled the American way, but colored is a colonial/Jim Crow (southern U.S.) word,” her post read.
“Why doesn’t Canada Post instead, commemorate abolishing slavery in Canada?”
Her post has since generated considerable attention, with several leaving comments referring to racism and racist attitudes.
Boot said she has since done more research on the hockey tournament shown on the stamp and said it was a notable achievement.
But she added that Canada Post’s description of the stamp and the tournament is sadly lacking.
Canada Post talks about the tournament as a contribution to Canada’s national sport.
“Canada Post’s Colored Hockey Championship stamp tells the story of little-known pioneers who overcame adversity and broke down barriers in Canadian society,” a statement on the Canada Post website reads.
“We are honoured to pay tribute to the determined organizers and players who arranged their own challenge matches, dispelled hurtful misconceptions and changed the game, and society, in small but important ways.”
The tone of the wording has left Boot dissatisfied.
“It has a very strong colonial slant to it — and that’s what bothers me,” she said.
Boot said the purpose of Black History Month is not only to recognize achievements but to recognize and acknowledge struggles as well. While the stamp shows an achievement, it does nothing to address past or present struggles.
She said the struggles, which continue today, need to be addressed.
“We’ve got the glossy cover, but we haven’t delved into the book,” she said.
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