On December 2, the Dutch Groceries and Giftware store in Ottawa will hold its annual public holiday party, with someone dressed as Black Pete, a racist caricature of Santa’s helper that remains popular in the Netherlands and among some Dutch Canadians. Dutch stores across Canada carry Black Pete chocolate, candy and other products and celebrate the occasion.

Dutch Groceries’ owners have refused to say whether the character will be in blackface at its holiday party, hanging up on customers who asked.

Please show owners and customers of Dutch businesses in Ottawa and elsewhere in Canada that racist portrayals of Black Pete are unacceptable. When you sign this petition, an email will be sent to the Ottawa store, and your signature will be added to a list presented to the owners and media. Read More.

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Dear Dutch Groceries and Gift Store (hollandinottawa@gmail.com),

[your signature]

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Black Pete, or Zwarte Piet in Dutch, is the assistant to Sinterklaas, the wise and kind White saint who hands out presents. Black Pete is his bumbling dimwitted servant. Black Pete is usually presented in parades and parties by people in blackface – with black makeup, large red lips, black wig and gold hoop earrings. The practice is rooted in slavery and colonialism, in Canada as much as the Netherlands, and it contributes to persistent anti-Black racism across Canada today. Even the United Nations denounced Canada’s systemic racism.

There is a growing movement in the Netherlands and abroad against Black Pete practices. Unfortunately, Dutch stores across Canada continue to carry Black Pete chocolate, candy and other products and celebrate the occasion with blackface pageantry. Help build the movement here to end this racist practice. In 2017, the Black community and their allies will not be silent.

For more information, read this article on the issue.

This petition is endorsed by Solidarity Ottawa and the Caribbean Union of Canada and the organizations may follow-up with signatories in the future about racism and other related issues.