Mountain Equipment Co-op now has Judith Kasiam as an ambassador after she questioned their white-only marketing earlier this spring. Kasiam is seen above enjoying one of her favourite pastimes.(Instagram/CBC)

Mountain Equipment Co-op apologizes for racist marketing


Mountain Equipment Co-op, the outdoor equipment company that has thrived in Canada over the last 47 years, is now awakening to the diversity of the country.

We need to represent the diversity that is Canada, and if we don’t, we will not remain relevant into the future”

In an interview on CBC Radio’s, The Current, at the end of October, MEC CEO, David Labistour explained the change.


“We need to represent the diversity that is Canada, and if we don’t, we will not remain relevant into the future”, he said.

Labistour apologized last month in an open letter to the co-op’s members for using only white models in its marketing and advertising.

Judith Kasiama was a catalyst in this epiphany.

Kasiama fled the war in her native Congo, and is now an avid outdoor enthusiast in Vancouver, British Columbia.

In an Instagram post she questioned why there were never people who looked like her in the co-op’s advertising and marketing.

Hundreds of people attend a discussion on diversity in the outdoors this past weekend in Banff, with the CEO and several ambassadors of Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC). (CBC)

This past weekend, Kasiama took part in a forum in Banff, Alberta, to talk about diversity in Canada’s great outdoors.

“I know what war is like,” she said. “And being in the mountains … has allowed me to really reach that path of healing.” CBC News reported.

David Labistour has since announced his intention to step down from his position as CEO in June 2019, but the new direction for the company will continue.

This past weekend, The Banff Centre hosted a panel discussion on diversity in the outdoors, with Labistour and several ambassadors of Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC).

Rebeccah Kellman lives in nearby Canmore, Alberta. She attended the panel on Sunday. She told the CBC she welcomes the conversation about including people of colour in advertising.

“As a woman of colour living in Canmore, I can relate. I look around, I’m the only black person in the climbing gym. I go climbing outside, I’m the only black person at the climbing crag,” she told CBC.

“So it’s important to have these conversations and it’s nice that MEC has acknowledged that there’s a problem and I can maybe see someone like me in their advertising.”

View this post on Instagram

According to a U.S. national parks study, only 7 percent of black folks visit national parks. While 78 percent of all parks visitors are white. There seems to be a narrative that BIPOC don’t enjoy the outdoor compare to their white friends. This is not rooted in actual reality but a myth perpetuated by marketing that caters to predominately white audience. If you don’t believe, check out companies such as @mec, @arcteryx @arcteryxcanada @hellyhansen who fail to diversify their adds. Painting a narrative that people like me don’t enjoy the outdoors. I love nature and spending time outside! I hope these companies can diversify their adds. Sadly I couldn’t find any studies in Canada. #truthfultuesday Pc: @neverbadtimeforchanges

A post shared by Juju Milay (@jujumil) on

(With files from CBC)

Posted in Environment, Immigration & Refugees, International, Society

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1.’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3.’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.