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

Pandemic reunites 2000s era Victoria rock band The Origin

Saanich musicians recording for first time since 2008

Local authors nominated for Victoria Book Prize awards

Finalists for 2020 announced in two categories

Patrick brothers who shaped modern hockey also tried, but failed, to remove violence

New history thesis shows efforts to sell a “clean game” in Oak Bay

Central Saanich to formally inform Agricultural Land Commission about soccer pitch proposal

Move is meant for information only with no application having come forward yet

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

POLL: Do you plan on allowing your children to go trick or treating this year?

This popular annual social time will look quite different this year due to COVID-19

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Body discovered floating in water near Lasqueti Island

JRCC reports personnel aboard fishing vessel made the find

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

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Most Read