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

Being Young: ‘Golden period,’ after exams

I should be plenty entertained over the summer.

Easter egg hunts and fun for families

More events scheduled for Sunday in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Bobcats, bears, and otters, oh my!

Critter Care Wildlife Society’s 20th anniversary gala set for next Saturday in Langley

Victoria ‘reviewing options’ for removing convicted councillors

Pitt Meadows lobbied for change after David Murray’s sex assault conviction

Cubetto teaches kids the building blocks of coding

Fraser Valley Regional Library’s wooden robot coming to Maple Ridge in May

‘No answers:’ Canadians react to Sri Lanka bombings that killed hundreds

The co-ordinated bomb attacks killed at least 207 people and injured 450 more on Easter Sunday

RCMP confirm witnesses say body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

Police say ‘no major incidents’ at 4/20, Vancouver Park Board assessing

The first smoke-out held since legalization saw 60,000 people at Vancouver’s Sunset Beach

VIDEO: Langley firefighters spend hours battling blaze in vacant home

Cause of the late-night fire in Willoughby is still under investigation

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

RCMP looking for witnesses to four-vehicle crash in Burnaby

Police suspect impaired driving was a contributing factor

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Most Read