Regina activists place warning labels on Indigenous Halloween costumes

Halloween costumes depicting Indigenous women and girls in costume at a Regina store had warning labels thanks to some local activists.

'Reservation Royalty' and 'Give Thanks' costumes sold in Regina store

Warning labels placed on Halloween costumes at Regina's Spirit Halloween store. The first line reads: "The items contained in this package are offensive and promote the sexualization of Indigenous women and peoples." (Chris Kortright/Facebook)

Halloween costumes depicting Indigenous women and girls in costume at a Regina store had warning labels thanks to some local activists.

Spirit Halloween in Regina is selling costumes such as 'Reservation Royalty', 'Native American Princess' and 'Wolf Dancer'. There are similar costumes for both women and girls.

"It's precisely these types of images that normalize the sexualization of Indigenous women and lay the foundation for a culture that accepts the violence against Indigenous women," said Chris Kortright who helped place the labels on the costumes.
The two sided message included information about missing and murdered Indigenous women. (Chris Kortright/Facebook)

Kortright has sent an email to the local store explaining the tactic and the issue they have with the costumes.

"Have people contact Spirit Halloween in the U.S., as well as locally to tell them they think it's ridiculous and they should be taken off the shelves. But then also stop being made," said Kortright who is with the Saskatchewan Coalition Against Racism.

"Every year the same thing happens again," Kortright said.

One of the costumes which received a warning label from activists in Regina. (Chris Kortright/Facebook)

Warning Labels

The label Kortright's group placed on costumes was two sided. One side explained how the costumes promote the sexualization of Indigenous women. It asks people to 'please avoid contact with these dangerous materials'.

The back side pointed out there are 4,000 missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada and a inquiry is under way on the issue.

"A handful of customers came up to us as we were putting the labels on and thanked us for doing it and said they supported it," Kortright said.

So far, people from across Canada and the U.S. have reached out to Kortright on social media expressing their support.

Similar issue in Saskatoon

Last week, a woman in Saskatoon called for a boycott of the Spirit Halloween store there after seeing the costumes.

Spirit Halloween's parent company is Spencer Gifts in Philadelphia, Pa.

A look at the selection of children's costumes depicting Indigenous stereotypes. (CBC)

Costumes staying on shelves

As of Monday afternoon, the labels had been removed from the costumes at the Regina location.

A spokesperson for Spirit Halloween sent a statement to CBC on Monday afternoon:

"Understanding certain sensitivities, we always strive to present our costumes in a responsible and respectful manner. While we respect the opinion of those who are opposed to the sale of any cultural or historical costumes, we are proud of our costume selection for men, women and children."

"We have not directed any of our stores to remove Indigenous themed costumes from our shelves, nor do we plan to have these costumes removed," said Lisa Barr spokesperson for Spirit Halloween.