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

Work begins on Otter Point Road project in Sooke

The project now has a fall completion date following a long delay

Central Saanich Police prepared for afternoon shut-down of Highway 17

Sgt. Paul Brailey questions efficacy of protest

Wet’suwet’en supporters occupying legislature in Victoria set press conference

Demonstrators have been occupying the legislature since Monday despite injunction

Psychiatric assessment ordered for man charged with killing dog

Brandon Norman Bartlett, 38, appeared in court on Monday morning

Rail disruptions expected to continue after new protest sites emerge

Nationwide rail and road blockades have been popping up for weeks

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

COLUMN: Forestry no longer close to top of B.C.’s economy

Our reactions to a forestry downturn reflect the past, not the present

Caught on camera: Police release video of man who allegedly stole seaplane in Vancouver

Police say the man broke into the Harbour Air terminal and then got into one of the seaplanes in the harbour

51 health professionals send letter to Trudeau, Horgan panning northern B.C. pipeline

They point to studies about the health and climate change risks from pipeline

Fake meat and a latte? Starbucks adds Beyond Meat in Canada

The Seattle roaster has talked about introducing plant-based patties in the U.S., but has yet to do so

Groundhogs got it wrong: spring isn’t coming soon, Weather Network says

The only part of B.C. to warm up early will be Victoria

Most Read