Nova Scotia PR calendar under fire for lack of diversity
Select Nova Scotia calendar only features photos of white people
A calendar produced with the support of the Nova Scotia government is coming under fire because it only features photos of white people.
The 13-page Select Nova Scotia calendar, which features products produced in the province as well as recipes, was prepared before the Liberals took office last fall.
Select Nova Scotia is a provincial branding project supported by Communications Nova Scotia.
"I think we can always improve, we should improve and I think this is just a perfect example of how we're not doing as well as we could be doing," said Andrew Younger, the Minister of Communications Nova Scotia.
El Jones, Halifax's poet laureate, said the calendar only showcases "one particular vision" of the province.
"We have wonderful black communities that are also communities that do have local foods. I think of Hope Blooms down in Uniacke Square that was on Dragons' Den — they've created salad dressing, they're growing vegetables, they're growing all kinds of things," she said.
"That would be a perfect group to showcase in this calendar."
The omission of people of diverse backgrounds is especially alarming, said Jones, considering the opening line in the calendar states: "Nova Scotia: See what an amazingly diverse province we live in."
"Leaving us out, it may not seem important but it has everything to do with the marginalization of other [cultures] in society," she said.
Henk van Leeuwen, the president and CEO of Easter Seals Nova Scotia, said diversity is also about more than skin colour — it can refer to religion, sexual orientation and disability.
"Earlier today, the Speaker of the Nova Scotia legislature — Kevin Murphy — who uses a wheelchair was in our office today," said van Leeuwen.
"You could see when he met with our trainees and clients, they were completely inspired that they were seeing someone like themselves in a position of power and someone who is in a highly trusted and high-profile position in Nova Scotia."
Leaving people out can have a negative impact according to Ed McHugh, a local marketing professor who teaches at universities in Halifax.
"If you're not included like anything in life, I think you feel like you're on the outside and it’s not representative of you or your background," he said.