British Columbia

'Racist' Halloween costumes should be pulled from shelves, says B.C. man

Jeffrey McNeil-Seymour says costumes at Halloween Alley in Kamloops trivialize First Nation culture

Jeffrey McNeil-Seymour says costumes at Halloween Alley in Kamloops trivialize First Nation culture

Halloween costume sold at Halloween Alley (Jeffrey McNeil-Seymour )

A Kamloops man is calling on a local Halloween costume shop to pull what he calls culturally offensive costumes from its shelves.

Jeffrey McNeil-Seymour, a member of the Tk'emlúps Tes Secwépemc First Nation, went Halloween shopping over the weekend with his sister and his nieces.

"As we started to make our way through the store, I noticed a costume labelled, 'Chief Many Feathers.' I find these costumes rather triggering," he said.

Costumes an example of cultural appropriation, he says

The male costume was outfitted with a feather headdress, while the female costumes were "hypersexualized," he said. 

"The short skirts and the headdresses and those things are just wildly inappropriate, given particularly all of the issues surrounding the ongoing issues of the missing and murdered indigenous women."

The Thompson Rivers University social work instructor called the store's decision to carry this merchandise "rather passively ignorant," and wants Halloween Alley in the Columbia Place Shopping Centre to stop selling the merchandise.

UBC education professor Mona Gleason said these kinds of costumes are "not only cultural appropriations, they're also bordering on racist and inaccurate depictions.

"When people wear these old, often racist and often very hurtful stereotypical costumes thinking it's just all in the spirit of having a good time, it really can undo a lot of the good work that's been done in schools or other educational outlets," she said.

Focus is on having fun, says store 

In a statement to the CBC, Halloween Alley's director of retail development Tony Hugens said: 

"It is not our intention to offend any race or creed. We would like to stress that as some Halloween costumes might come across as controversial, our intention at Halloween Alley is to celebrate life (Halloween Style!), and have fun with our friends and families during Halloween festivities.

"We are not in the position of judging how the costumes are being used by our customers, but our intention is that every costume celebrates a part of someone's life (and in some cases it might be celebrating a certain culture or nationality)."

To listen to the full interview, click on the link: Racist Halloween costumes? A Kamloops man wants them gone.


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