Photos surface of Conservative candidate at B.C. event with people in blackface

The controversial “Black Peter” character has been a feature at Sinterklaas celebrations

The Conservative Party has confirmed Cloverdale-Langley City candidate Tamara Jansen attended and rented out her greenhouse for a local event that featured performers in blackface.

“Ms. Jansen was at the event but did not organize it,” said Daniel Schow, press secretary to Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer.

He confirmed organizers rented one of the Jansen family’s greenhouses for an event.

He noted that Jansen did not wear blackface.

“Unlike Justin Trudeau, our candidate did not dress up in blackface three times and lie about it,” Schow said.

“Blackface is racist. Anybody who has ever applied it has no place in this election or in our party,” he added.

Allegations that Jansen was involved in the event began to circulate on Twitter on Thursday morning, in the wake of the news that Prime Minister Trudeau had worn blackface or brownface several times, most recently when he dressed as Aladdin at an Arabian Nights-themed party at the Vancouver school where he was a teacher in 2001.

READ MORE: Third instance of Trudeau in skin-darkening makeup emerges

The local events were Sinterklaas celebrations, Dutch family holiday events at which St. Nicholas meets children.

The annual events have attracted a significant amount of controversy in recent years due to the Black Peter character, known as Zwarte Piet in Dutch. Black Peter is usually described as St. Nicholas’s Moorish servant, but he is traditionally portrayed by a white person in black makeup.

Photos from a Sinterklaas event website show that multiple Black Peter characters were involved in events over the last few years. By 2016 and 2017, some of the Black Peters were still in blackface, but many others were in bright orange, purple, or blue face makeup instead.

Photos from the 2018 event posted online do not show any performers in blackface.

Controversy over the events in the Lower Mainland almost a decade ago resulted in a Sinterklaas event at the New Westminster Quay being cancelled. Dutch-Canadian proponents of the event have argued it is traditional and not meant to be racist, but there has been considerable controversy over the Black Peter character in the Netherlands as well.

Subsequent events have been held in the Fraser Valley, including in Langley and Cloverdale.

Jansen is well-known locally for the GLOW Christmas and Harvest celebrations which were held at her family’s Milner Gardens greenhouses until Agricultural Land Reserve rules forced a move earlier this year.

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

Just Posted

Iconic white raven spotted in area north of Nanaimo

Photographer John Domovich spotted rare bird earlier this week in Whiskey Creek area

South Wellington community association hopes to save old school from demolition

Nanaimo school district staff to report on fate of South Wellington Elementary later this month

Black Lives solidarity demonstration fills Nanaimo park

Anti-racism protest held at Maffeo Sutton Park on Friday afternoon

UPDATE: Missing indigenous youth sought by Nanaimo RCMP located

Family of William Baker worried and said he was in company of people putting him at risk

Nanaimo man wanted on assault warrants

John Bates wanted following two separate incidents from earlier this year

Black Lives solidarity demonstration fills Nanaimo park

Anti-racism protest held at Maffeo Sutton Park on Friday afternoon

‘Like finding a needle in a haystack’: Ancient arrowhead discovered near Williams Lake

The artifact is believed to be from the Nesikip period between 7,500 BP to 6,000 BP

Friends, family mourn Salt Spring Island woman killed in suspected murder-suicide

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for Jennifer Quesnel’s three sons

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

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

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Indigenous chief alleges RCMP beat him during arrest that began over expired licence plate

Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam calling for independent investigation

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Most Read