A Blackfoot woman who is running for a seat around the council table in Calgary says a racist line of coffee released by a man who says he’s running for mayor is an example of why different voices are needed at city hall.
“It is concerning,” said Marilyn North Peigan. “This is the reason we need diversity, native voices sitting at the table so we can discuss this openly.
“It makes it more important to have my voice there.”
The man, Kevin J. Johnston, launched a series of coffee names that includes the racist brand called “Wasted Native.”
“Forget gas, huff this” is the slogan that Kevin J. Johnston came up with for his coffee blend that has angered First Nations communities in Alberta.
“Sadly enough, 2,500 people like his Facebook page,” Tweeted Lesley Weasel Fat. “Go to his page and leave him a review and let him know what we think of his racist logo.”
The ad for the coffee has been circling around on social media after Johnson launched his website.
What’s unsettling for commenters on social media is not only the logo, but Johnston’s claim that he’s running for the mayor’s job in Calgary.
North Peigan told APTN News she wasn’t surprised when she saw the ad but felt the need to speak out.
“As a leader, we have to start acknowledging it because if we are silent about it, we’re just as guilty for creating violence,” said North Peigan, who admitted she didn’t want to give the coffee company exposure.
“When I did look at that, the first thing that came to mind are those stereotypes and images that actually don’t exist but make fun of Native people. It’s just another version of these mascots of these sports teams that we’re trying to get rid of and people don’t know why we want to get rid of them.”
On the Kevin J. Johnston Coffee Co. website, Johnston claims that “Wasted Native was such a hit with real native Indians in northern Alberta that they all wanted an Indian Face, Name and Joke on the package.”
It isn’t clear who Johnston consulted with and the company didn’t reply to a request for an interview.
This isn’t the first time Johnston has been called out for racist remarks.
In 2019, the Ontario Superior Court ordered Johnston to pay $2.5 million in damages for hateful, Islamophobic comments against a restaurant chain owner in Mississauga Ont.
North Peigan said these are the reasons why Calgary needs Indigenous representation in the city.
“When it does come to talking about reconciliation, we have to acknowledge that these things are going to happen along the way but not to give it attention and not to give it space,” she said.
“I know they generate trauma; I know they generate all the negative feelings. Especially for me, someone who’s a day school, a federal day school person. We just have to look at the positive aspects and know that not everybody in the society is like that.”
The coffee can only be bought online and despite feedback, there has been no sign of changing the name or removing the coffee blend from the website.