(Wikimedia Commons)

Outdoor retailer MEC vows to boost diversity after online complaint

Mountain Equipment Co-op was criticized for perpetuating a white-only picture of the outdoors

An outdoor recreation retailer is vowing to increase diversity in its online ads and workforce after being called out on social media.

In an email sent to members Monday, Mountain Equipment Co-op said the company had let them down.

“Historically, the models we’ve used in our catalogues and campaigns and on mec.ca have been predominantly white,” CEO David Labistour said.

“And this imagery has perpetuated the vastly incorrect notion that people of colour in Canada don’t ski, hike, climb or camp. This letter is about recognizing the role we’ve played in under-representing people of colour in the outdoors, and committing to change. It’s not okay.”

The retailer said its campaign was sparked after a post last March from Judith Kasiama, an avid hiker and a Vancouver-area Instagrammer.

“There seems to be a narrative that [black and Indigenous people of colour] don’t enjoy the outdoor compare to their white friends,” Kasiama wrote.

“This is not rooted in actual reality but a myth perpetuated by marketing that caters to predominately white audience.”

She tagged several outdoor recreation companies in her post, including MEC, Arcteryx and Helly Hansen, and said the brands “paint a narrative that people like me don’t enjoy the outdoors.”

Later that month, Kasiama said the company responded to her post and signed her on as MEC “outdoor nation ambassador.”

“This gives me a chance to extend the conversation, speak directly to a young diverse audience and help them make the change they want to see in the world,” Kasiama said in a video posted to the MEC website.

“Representation matters because role models define what’s possible.”

The company released several videos with more diverse representatives, and said it’s committing to a more varied board of directors.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Drivesmart column: The registered owner is responsible

Have you ever stopped to consider the risk involved in handing your keys over to someone else?

Aquatic Centre renovations starting soon

More space promised for crowded fitness and aquatic areas

Mary Lowther column: Nutrition in our food on the decline

When crops don’t contain the minerals they need, they cannot provide other nutrients we depend on.

Sarah Simpson column: Bigger isn’t always better

One item there was a two-foot-tall candy cane.

Void of summer events going to be felt in Chemainus

CBIA cancels Classics Car Show and Canada Day celebrations

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of the world of summer sports

In a typical year, there are plenty of summer sporting events and tournaments held across Canada

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

Most Read