British Columbia

Vancouver Candle Company founder apologizes after racist text messages shared online

The founder of the Vancouver Candle Company has issued an apology and says he will be “stepping away” from his duties after another Vancouver business accused him of sending racist text messages online.

Black business owner says she received messages defending the use of the N-word

Nick Rabuchin, founder of Vancouver Candle Co., says he is stepping away from the company after he was accused of sending racist messages to another business owner. (Vancouver Candle Co.)

The founder of the Vancouver Candle Company has issued an apology and says he will be "stepping away" from his duties after another Vancouver business accused him of sending racist text messages online.

Nick Rabuchin acknowledged in a letter posted from the company's Instagram account that while he did not use the N-word himself, he defended its use in a text message to a Black woman who runs a Vancouver-based sales agency.

Christina McDaniel, founder of lifestyle sales agency Warner McDaniel, took to Instagram on Saturday to share screenshots of text messages she allegedly received from Rabuchin.

One of the images shows a text message from an anonymous number on Nov. 2 in which the sender says they hope McDaniel's store "burns down with you in it." The sender also calls McDaniel the N-word.

A racist text message containing the N-word was sent to Christina McDaniel from an anonymous number. This screenshot has been edited to obscure the extremely offensive language it contains as per CBC's language guide. (Warner McDaniel/Instagram)

A second screenshot shows a message from a number listed as "Vancouver Candle Co." and appears to defend the use of the word.

Christina McDaniel says she received a text message from a number listed as "Vancouver Candle Co." defending the use of the N-word. (Warner McDaniel/Instagram)

In his apology letter, Rabuchin admits that he did "rationalize the use of that hateful derogatory slur as being an acceptable part of pop culture." 

"I apologize sincerely and absolutely. I was totally out of line and wrong." He says he's also reached out to Christina McDaniel privately to apologize.

Rabuchin has also admitted to sending a text message with anti-Semitic language three years ago. 

Nicholas Rabuchin has admitted to sending a text message using anti-Semitic language three years ago. This screenshot has been edited to obscure the extremely offensive language it contains as per CBC's language guide. (Warner McDaniel/Instagram)

"The text was offensive and I used unacceptable language, and for that, I am ashamed and embarrassed," reads his apology. He says he apologized to the recipient of the text at the time and has again reached out to apologize now.

In her post, McDaniel says she chose to share the screenshots "to shed light on the reality that racism isn't an American problem limited to police brutality."

After she went public, calls to boycott Vancouver Candle Co. products quickly made the rounds on social media. 

Harassment goes back years

McDaniel is also involved in a December 2019 lawsuit launched against Vancouver Candle Co. and its two owners, Rabuchin and his partner Farouk Babul. The lawsuit was launched by another candle company, Hollow Tree Candle Co. registered in Squamish, B.C., and alleges that Vancouver Candle has "engaged in aggressive marketing practices, bordering on the unethical" since 2017.

The founders of Hollow Tree Candle claim that Babul and Rabuchin have periodically spread information to retailers and distributors discrediting Hollow Tree products and damaging the company's reputation.

McDaniel's agency represented Vancouver Candle until 2018, but when it also took on Hollow Tree as a client, the relationship between Warner McDaniel and Vancouver Candle fell apart, according to the lawsuit.

The suit alleges the two men have engaged in "aggressive and harassing behaviour" towards members of Hollow Tree and towards McDaniel.

In a response to the lawsuit filed this February, Babul and Rabuchin deny all the allegations against them and against Vancouver Candle Co.

They state the company's conduct is "legal, ethical and its success is founded in its product quality" and describe the allegations as "vague" and "confounding."

Vancouver Candle Co. was founded in 2014 by Nick Rabuchin, according to the company's website. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

In his apology letter, Rabuchin states that "putting aside that we are in litigation for a business matter, I owe the recipient of my text-response a public apology and personal apology."

He admits he's made "unacceptable and hurtful" comments in recent years, but that they do not reflect his company's views.

"Racism has never been and will never be tolerated at Vancouver Candle Co.," he said in the letter. 

He says he'll be taking time away from the company to take sensitivity training and will be contacting Black Lives Matter Vancouver and the Jewish Foundation of Greater Vancouver to apologize for his comments.

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