Sunday, 16 July 2017

Walmart Canada removes 'racist' onesie decorated with teepees that jokes about children living at home despite the country's history of taking indigenous kids away from their families

 Walmart Canada says it is pulling a baby sleeper from its shelves after customers brought the writing on the questionable product to its attention.

The storm started on Twitter when a user tweeted out a picture of a sleeper that was taken at a store in southwestern Ontario.

The text on the sleeper reads: “I Still Live With My Parents,” while the graphics include an arrow, and two teepees.

“He @walmart. You know that indigenous children are taken into foster care disproportionately don’t you?” @gindaanis wrote on Twitter with the hashtag #racism.

 The photo was taken by Elizabeth Sault who is the Aboriginal healing and wellness coordinator for the Niagara Regional Native Centre in Niagara on the Lake, Ont.

“Given my profession, my first thought went right towards child welfare and we have the highest rate of children in care in Canada,” Sault told APTN. “I was with my daughter, she is 13, I thought what a great education for her and how inappropriate it is. At first she was just like ‘oh mom stop,’ because I’m always educating her – and she is probably also of that mindset that it’s no big deal but now she sees that it’s gaining some momentum.”

Sault posted the picture on her Facebook – it was then posted on twitter.

The picture has been retweeted and liked hundreds of times along with dozens of comments since it was posted Thursday.

“WOW … that is a whole new level of insensitive,” wrote @claudiastein

Sault took the picture of the sleeper at a Walmart store in Niagara Falls, Ont., approximately two hours west of Toronto outside Niagara Falls.

According to a message APTN received on Twitter, the manager of the store agreed to take the item off stores shelves when a complaint was lodged. APTN has not been able to reach the store manager.

It’s not clear if the sleeper, made by the George clothing line, is sold in other Walmart stores across the country.

The item does not appear to be sold online.

APTN contacted Walmart Canada to get more information about the sleeper and received this response.

“We thank our customers for bringing this matter to our attention,” said Anika Malik, senior manager of corporate affairs for Walmart Canada. “The graphic on this item does not represent Walmart’s beliefs and has no place in our stores. We are removing the product immediately and sincerely apologize for any unintended offence this has caused.”

Malik did not explain how the item got into Walmart stores to begin with, or how many complaints the company has received.

Sault, who is from the MIssissaugas of the New Credit not far from Niagara Falls, doesn’t think Walmart knew what it was selling.

“I think it was out of ignorance,” she said. “It’s not intentional but because people who are unaware I think opening up the conversation around this onesie is key – it’s not necessarily all negative because the conversation is happening, the awareness is happening around this.”

The “I still live with my parents” text appears on many sleepers – but usually without graphics.

“It’s a kind of common onesie joke (where the joke is, like you said, that they’re expected to) but with the imagery, jesus,” wrote @christapeterso

It’s not clear when the product will be removed from Walmart Canada’s stores.

“I think there will be mixed feelings – there’s always mixed feelings when it comes to anything with the Indigenous communities. Some people are aware, and are receptive – and other people are not,” said Sault.

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