The Instagram post from Judith Kasiama that sparked MEC’s diversity initiative. (jujumil/Instagram)

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.

Just Posted

Campbell River’s ‘school of hack’ gives kids inside computing edge

Teachers take ‘hacking’ back to its roots with school program

UPDATED: Man survived for ‘days’ trapped in smashed truck north of Campbell River

Duncan Moffat, 23, found by hunter beside Hwy. 19 near Sayward

Gas prices on Vancouver Island to drop six cents

But a ‘volatile’ market could lead to increases in the coming weeks

Helpline assists Campbell River families tackling the dementia journey

No one in Campbell River should have to face the dementia journey… Continue reading

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Early data suggests no spike in pot-impaired driving after legalization: police

Some departments said it’s too early to provide data, others said initial numbers suggest stoned driving isn’t on the rise

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

Cowichan school district defends lack of notice to parents following elementary student arrest

Officials with School District 79 stand by their decision not to send out an alert.

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Most Read