Candy store statue with a lollipop headdress removed from West Edmonton Mall
'After hundreds of years of having your people marginalized, it’s just something we have to stand up for'
Following multiple complaints, a statue of an Indigenous man with lollipops for a headdress was removed from a West Edmonton Mall candy store Monday morning.
The statue was on display at Bubble and Gum, a boutique candy store that opened in WEM on June 27. The store's owner, Garry Winstone, was contacted by mall administration early Monday about "the native in my store," said store manager Jacki Zahariuk.
"The owner called me this morning and we moved it just before we opened," said Zahariuk. "It's going into storage."
Zahariuk said the owner purchased the statue from the United States. When it arrived about three weeks after the store opened, it was placed by the shop's main entrance.
"It's just a beautiful Indigenous American Native Indian and all of his [headdress] is feathers of lollipops," said Zahariuk.
Montana Courts first saw the statue on Sunday afternoon while walking through the mall.
She immediately asked a store clerk to speak to a manager, but she was told no one was available to take her complaint.
"The employee informed me that he couldn't take any complaints … and I had to leave," said Courts, who is Metis.
"I was really offended by it. It's a stereotypical Indian image."
After trying to file an online complaint with the mall on Sunday, she was able to speak to the mall's Guest Services staff on Monday.
Zahariuk told CBC this isn't the first complaint the statue has drawn.
She said after it went on display in early July, a man complained and the statue was tucked into a back corner on the sales floor.
"Everything calmed down when we put it in the back … and it was the owner's decision to move it back to the front on Saturday," said Zahariuk.
"When (the statue) is up at the front of the store, everybody loves it because the headdress is made of feather suckers and everybody buys it. But when it's at the back of the store, you can't see it."
Courts says ultimately she's happy the statue is gone — and hopes it is gone for good.
"I understand that people don't often intend to be racist," she said. "You get called a 'snowflake' all the time.
"But after hundreds of years of having your people marginalized, it's just something we have to stand up for."