Thursday, 30 April 2009

Eskimo lollies rile Inuit; Canadian High Commissioner has blamed Kiwis' "rednecky element"

Eskimo lollies rile Inuit


A staple lolly of the New Zealand 50-cent mixture has upset a Canadian tourist because she considers its name and shape offensive.

Seeka Lee Veevee Parsons, 21, an Inuit from the Nunavut Territory in Canada, said the Eskimo lolly, manufactured by Cadbury/Pascall, was an insult to her people.

The word "Eskimo" was unacceptable in her country and carried negative racial connotations, she said. She intended to send packets of the confectionery to the Canadian prime minister and her grandfather, a Inuit tribal elder.

When she found the lollies for sale in Timaru, she was surprised a company would be able to use the word for a product. "When I was a little girl, white kids in the community used to tease me about it in a bad way."



MARK DWYER/ Taranaki Daily News
CULTURAL CRINGE: Canadian tourist Seeka Lee Veevee Parsons, 21, an Inuit, is upset New Zealanders eat confectionary called Eskimos. She says both the name and shape of the lolly are derogatory to her people.

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Eskimos to stay, maker says


Pascalls have no plans to rename or stop selling Eskimo lollies, despite the offence they have caused some Inuit people.

"We have no intention to rename, reshape or remove the product, and trust that consumers will continue to enjoy Pascall Eskimos," Cadbury spokesman Daniel Ellis said.

Controversy over the iconic sweets erupted after a Canadian tourist visiting New Zealand raised concerns. Seeka Lee Veevee Parsons, 21, an Inuit of the Nunavut Territory in Canada, said they were an insult and planned to send packets of the confectionary to the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and her grandfather, a tribal elder.

A Christchurch academic has also called the sweets offensive saying Inuit friends in Canada likened the popular sweet to "eating white people".

In a statement today Pascall/Cadbury said Eskimos were "an iconic New Zealand lolly".

The company produced almost 19 million individual Eskimos last year, which made it "one of our most sought after".

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It's the great Eskimo debate

Waikato Times  [excerpt]

A claim we have been collectively guilty of gross cultural insensitivity by biting into marshmallows called Eskimos for the last 54 years caught the country on the hop this week.

Canadian tourist Seeka Lee Veevee Parsons claimed the 190g bags of lollies on New Zealand shop shelves were an insult to her people, both in terms of the name, which she said had racial overtones, and the shape, which stereotyped her people as igloo dwellers. She has also complained about our icecream Eskimo Pie. Ms Parsons maintained the term Eskimo was an insult and had been replaced with Inuit. The 21-year-old from the Nunavut territory in northeast Canada planned to make Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and her grandfather, an Inuit tribal elder, aware of the Pascall lollies.

So should the Eskimo and Eskimo Pie be condemned as another gollywog, redesigned and renamed? Despite Ms Parson's claims, while the word Eskimo has fallen from favour in parts of Canada, it is still widely used.

She claimed seeing it aroused painful memories because white children teased her as a child but it seems strange that she had to travel halfway around the world before finding a theatre to make a complaint. The city of Edmonton, in her own country, has turned out to cheer the Edmonton Eskimos hockey, soccer and baseball clubs over the years. It's likely the confectionary on sale at those games would have included many Eskimo Pies. It was a chocolate icecream dreamed up in the US, not New Zealand, in 1920 and sold worldwide. Edmonton is in Alberta. So is Calgary, where Canadian Prime Minister Harper has been MP for the last seven years.

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Commissioner wades into lolly row



BRADLEY AMBROS/Taranaki Daily News
OFENSIVE LOLLY: Pascall Eskimos have made headlines around the world after an Inuit women approached The Taranaki Daily News saying that they are insensitive to her culture.


New Zealand's Canadian High Commissioner has blamed Kiwis' "rednecky element" for comments suggesting a tourist should go home after complaining about Eskimo lollies.

NZ High Commissioner Kate Lackey said New Zealand residents were as loyal to Eskimos lollies as Canadians were to Tim Hortons coffee, the Canadian Press reported.

But rude radio comments and online calls for the 21-year-old tourist to head back to Canada were not acceptable, she told Canadian media yesterday.

"I would hope New Zealanders would be a bit more courteous and understanding," Lackey said.

"I'll probably get into trouble in New Zealand for saying such a thing, but often there's a sort of 'rednecky' element ... The people who get on talk-back (radio) and Stuff haven't had time to think through a bit more deeply how the other person might feel."

The Eskimo lolly controversy, which erupted this week, has gone international since Canadian tourist Seeka Lee Veevee Parsons told the Taranaki Daily News the sweets were insensitive to her culture and bought back painful memories of racism in Canada as a child.

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