Edmonton bakery issues apology after ‘Black Pete’ Dutch character sparked complaints

Click to play video: 'Controversy surrounds a Dutch Christmas tradition in Edmonton' Controversy surrounds a Dutch Christmas tradition in Edmonton
WATCH ABOVE: 'Black Pete' is beloved by some in the Dutch community but others are denouncing the traditional character as racist. As Shallima Maharaj reports, it's a conversation now being had in Edmonton – Dec 4, 2016

Dutch Delicious issued an apology after fielding concerns about “Black Pete”, a Dutch character being represented in the store.

The bakery has been open in Edmonton for a decade and each year, a costumed Zwarte Piet – or Black Pete, as he is also known, who is the assistant to Dutch Sinterklaas – makes an appearance.

READ MORE: Dutch court sidesteps debate on ‘Black Pete’ as racist stereotype

Protestors around the world have been calling for an end to the “Black Pete” tradition they see as racist.

Frank Stolk, president of the Dutch Canadian Club, is aware of the controversy caused by Zwarte Piet, the practice is not meant to offend anyone. Instead, he says it is a part of their history and culture.

READ MORE: Protest against Dutch holiday tradition that has Santa’s helpers resemble slaves

A viewer email Global Edmonton received last week took issue with a local Dutch bakery welcoming Black Pete to its storefront location.

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“It’s meant as a family festivity to celebrate with the children and the spirit of giving,” said Siebe Koopman, the owner of Dutch Delicious.

READ MORE: Does tradition trump all? Debate stoked over controversial Dutch character in Edmonton 

However, on Thursday, Dutch Delicious issued an apology on its Facebook page:

“We recently held our annual Sinterklaas celebration on Dec. 3. We do see reason to celebrate, remembering Nicholas and Peter coming from different cultures to show kindness to the Dutch so long ago. This celebration has not been banned in The Netherlands and is still being enjoyed today.

“We do realize that we have offended people with our Zwarte Piet character. So to those we have offended, it was done very unintentionally and we are sorry for causing hurt. That is why we have decided to change our festivities in the coming years to incorporate a Chimney Piet who will have soot streaks on his face and lose the curly hair and red lips. 

“A big thank you to all of you who have showed your support, this community is such a blessing to us. This includes our wonderful team at the bakery that have carried my WHY in business all the way. And so we keep ‘breaking bread together.'”

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