‘Holland: ‘Black Peter’ (Zwarte Pieten) to come

A controversial Christmas event that was cancelled in New Westminster last year will be held in Langley this Saturday.

Sinterklaas 2012 is taking place in Milner.

The event features traditional Dutch Christmas elements, including Sinterklaas, the Dutch version of Santa, and Zwarte Pieten or Black Peter, who is often a person wearing blackface.

Dutch culture is divided over Black Peter.

Last year, the organizer of Black History Month at Douglas College weighed in on on the issue.

“You can go to your local library and read that this Black Peter was a slave. He beat children. He was dumb, and he spoke buffoonish Dutch. There are just so many insulting aspects to that character,” Bernard Piprah told Glacier Media’s New Westminister paper, The Record.

The Sinterklaas website says the event includes a welcome from the Dutch Consul General, traditional foods, crafts and games for the kids and adults, photos, a colour contest, a poetry contest, and more.

The terms and conditions say: “The event will include the arrival of performers representing Sinterklaas and Zwarte Pieten. If you object in any way to their appearance or performance or to the celebration of this Dutch tradition, please do not attend.”

The site also includes background on the history of Dutch Christmas traditions and how the issue of Zwarte Pieten has changed over time.

The organizers faced accusations of racism and cancelled the New Westminster event for 2011 four days before it was to take place.

Businessman Tako Slump, who spoke on behalf of the event last year, was contacted by the Langley Advance. He said it’s a private event and that Holland Shopping Centre, which he owns, is not involved anymore.

The only suggestion he made for contacting the organizing committee was to email via the website.

Advance emails received no response.

via ‘Black Peter’ to come.

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