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Maple Ridge man defends Halloween display criticized as racially insensitive

Click to play video: 'Maple Ridge resident defends Halloween display' Maple Ridge resident defends Halloween display
Maple Ridge resident defends Halloween display – Oct 31, 2020

A Maple Ridge man is defending his family’s Halloween display amid accusations it is racially insensitive and offensive to families of suicide victims.

Calvin Meier told Global News his family has been expanding the annual display for eight years.

“This has nothing to do with race at all. It’s all about the kids having fun,” he said.

Read more: Vancouver B.C. woman commits to live Halloween display, standing for hours in costume

The display features mannequins in a variety of horror-themed situations, including two being hung from gallows, one being beheaded in a guillotine and one being chopped with a saw.

Former broadcaster Tamara Taggart posted an image of the display to Twitter on Friday, calling it “disgusting.”

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“My friend + her Black sons live nearby + see this lynching everyday,” she said. “The bodies wiggle in the noose. This is not funny.”

Maple Ridge city councillor Kierston Duncan responded, calling the display “disturbing” and pledging to look into what the city could do about it.

Meier said the display is about nothing more than giving his kids a creative outlet to express themselves during the Halloween holiday.

“We’ve turned it into a medieval theme — medieval —  and our new guy this year with a saw blade, that was actually a creative aspect from the oldest daughter,” he said.

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“Creativity is just something that kids are just not being inspired to do anymore because they’d rather be on video games, television, whatever. It really gave us a chance to sit down and to connect.”

Read more: Eastern Passage woman creates Halloween decorations from trash found on N.S. shorelines

Click to play video: 'Safety  checklist for Halloween celebrations' Safety checklist for Halloween celebrations
Safety checklist for Halloween celebrations – Oct 31, 2020

The display is across the street from a daycare, and Meier said the feedback from most children and parents who attend has been positive.

Read more: Saint-Lazare Halloween display creates COVID-19 controversy

Meier acknowledged the concerns of some neighbours around the hanging theme and mental health and suicide, but said it should be clear that none of the “victims” of the torture scene were inflicting the harm on themselves.

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Death by hanging is the most common form of suicide among youth in British Columbia, according to a 2018 report by the BC Coroners Service.

Maple Ridge bylaw officers have visited the home on 119th Avenue, and Meier said they’ve warned him they could use a new nuisance bylaw to try and shut down the display.

He said that would be a shame, and not in the spirit of Halloween.

“People just need to have fun, and that’s what we’re doing here,” he said.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

The Canadian Association for Suicide PreventionDepression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.

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