When it comes to high-end designer duds, knock-offs are a dime a dozen. But what about the traditional sweaters worn by the Cowichan tribes on southern Vancouver Island.
Women have been knitting the garments for nearly a century. The sweaters are bulky, extremely warm, and made with lanolin-rich sheep's wool -- which makes them resistant to rain. So, both practically and culturally, the sweaters are ideal for the Canadian Olympic team.
But the Hudson's Bay Company -- the official clothing supplier of the Canadian team -- has opted not to sell the original Cowichan sweaters -- which would have retailed for two-hundred-and-fifteen dollars. Instead, they're selling a more expensive imitation -- which will hit shelves last week with a price tag of about three-hundred-and-fifty bucks.
On Friday's program, the general manager of the Cowichan tribes, Ernest Elliot, told As It Happens how disappointed he was with the decision.
After that interview, Talkback heard a yarn or two.
Thanks for all of your calls and we got a lot. We also got email.
Juris Ezergailis writes:
"I'm amazed that the relevant decision makers couldn't see the obvious opportunity to highlight local native culture, provide jobs and have an even more sought-after games item. It could have set a precedent and standard. Other games planners could have emulated a model that merged history, culture, art and sport."
That email came to us from Juris Ezergailis.
Well, our lone email from the other side comes from Richard Frizell. In short, he writes:
"Mr. Elliott said the Cowichans never put a formal proposal to HBC. No proposal, no contract -- end of story! It's a flap over nothing."
For its part, HBC says they initially approached the Cowichan tribes to knit the sweaters. But, HBC says, talks broke off. Their company statement claims:
"It was clear that [the Cowichan tribes] were unable to meet Hudson's Bay Company requirements as a national retailer for consistent quality, speed to market and volume for delivery."
Thanks for all of your emails and calls to Talkback.