A photograph of a Winnipeg nightclub patron's Halloween costume has been shared hundreds of times on social media, mostly by people who criticize it as racist.

A picture of a young man wearing blackface was initially posted on Facebook over the weekend as a promotional photo for Stereo Nightclub.

The club has since removed the photo in question, but James Van Deventer has shared a screen grab of it because he says he's baffled by what he saw.

James Van Deventer

James Van Deventer says he's glad the nightclub removed the blackface photo from its Facebook page, but he's baffled over why the establishment would post it in the first place. (CBC)

"I'm glad they took it down, but there's so many layers to this," Van Deventer told CBC News on Monday.

"Yeah, this guy was a goof for doing it, but why did the establishment let him in?"

Van Deventer also couldn't understand why the bar chose to post the photo online.

"I was offended for the fact this guy was in blackface, but I'm sure there were hundreds of other people there. Why did they think this was a good idea?" he said.

'We're upset about it, and we apologize profusely…. The employee will be reprimanded for a horrendous lapse in judgment.' - Canad Inns CEO Paul Robson

In a message left with CBC News late Monday night, the chief executive officer of Canad Inns, Stereo Nightclub's parent company, said the photo was taken down because it was inappropriate and offensive.

"We're upset about it, and we apologize profusely," said Paul Robson. "The employee will be reprimanded for a horrendous lapse in judgment." 

Charmaine Nelson says for black people, blackface is offensive in the same way a Nazi swastika is for Jewish people.

Nelson, an associate professor at McGill University who has written extensively on race and representation, said blackface has troubling and violent roots with 19th-century minstrel shows.

She said such shows, which gained popularity after slavery was abolished in the United States, were a nostalgic celebration of slavery and dehumanized black people for entertainment.

Even today, blackface can send a message to black people that they aren't welcome, said Nelson.

Van Deventer, who had called on the club to apologize, said he's still surprised the photo was posted in the first place.

"It could have even been a lot nastier. I'm surprised nothing happened to this guy," he said.

Van Deventer said he's also discouraged that not everyone who shared the photo on Facebook believes there was a problem.