(Wikimedia Commons)

Outdoor retailer MEC vows to boost diversity after online complaint

Mountain Equipment Co-op was criticized for perpetuating a white-only picture of the outdoors

An outdoor recreation retailer is vowing to increase diversity in its online ads and workforce after being called out on social media.

In an email sent to members Monday, Mountain Equipment Co-op said the company had let them down.

“Historically, the models we’ve used in our catalogues and campaigns and on mec.ca have been predominantly white,” CEO David Labistour said.

“And this imagery has perpetuated the vastly incorrect notion that people of colour in Canada don’t ski, hike, climb or camp. This letter is about recognizing the role we’ve played in under-representing people of colour in the outdoors, and committing to change. It’s not okay.”

The retailer said its campaign was sparked after a post last March from Judith Kasiama, an avid hiker and a Vancouver-area Instagrammer.

“There seems to be a narrative that [black and Indigenous people of colour] don’t enjoy the outdoor compare to their white friends,” Kasiama wrote.

“This is not rooted in actual reality but a myth perpetuated by marketing that caters to predominately white audience.”

She tagged several outdoor recreation companies in her post, including MEC, Arcteryx and Helly Hansen, and said the brands “paint a narrative that people like me don’t enjoy the outdoors.”

Later that month, Kasiama said the company responded to her post and signed her on as MEC “outdoor nation ambassador.”

“This gives me a chance to extend the conversation, speak directly to a young diverse audience and help them make the change they want to see in the world,” Kasiama said in a video posted to the MEC website.

“Representation matters because role models define what’s possible.”

The company released several videos with more diverse representatives, and said it’s committing to a more varied board of directors.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

Saanich police see spike in excessive speeding compared to previous years

Nearly 100 excessive speeders caught since January 2020

Colwood branch drop-off to continue throughout summer

COVID-19 safety measures remain in place

Welcome to grilling season: Saanich firefighter talks barbecue safety tips

Grills should be cleaned, serviced prior to use, firefighter says

Cycling scavenger hunt comes to Tweed City

Cyclists scour Oak Bay for clues in Bike to Work Week event

Colwood woman launches Adopt a Grad

Facebook page aims to support students during pandemic

11 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. as top doc urges caution amid ‘encouraging’ low rates

Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced that two care home outbreaks would be declared over

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

$200,000 Maybach impounded after ‘L’ driver caught excessively speeding in Vancouver

Meanwhile, the supervisor sat in the passenger seat, police said

Most Read