A Nova Scotia MLA has deleted a picture he posted online of himself with Black Pete, the controversial Dutch Christmas character usually depicted in blackface.
Joachim Stroink came under fire after posting the picture in which he poses with a person in blackface dressed as Zwarte Peit, a.k.a. Black Pete.
Pete is known in Dutch culture as Santa's helper — though critics, including Verene Shepherd of the UN human rights commission, say he's more akin to a slave.
He is generally portrayed by white people in black makeup, bright red lips, afro or dreadlock wigs and hoop earrings.
"While the history of Zwarte Pete and the blackface have contributed to perpetuating negative stereotypes, to ignore or to disavow Zwarte Pete would be to ignore that history within the Dutch community," Stroink wrote on Facebook Tuesday, after deleting the picture.
"As a child growing up and celebrating the Sinterklaas and Zwarte Pete tradition, the blackface did not lead me to think less of my African NS neighbours and friends, and as such I was not sensitive to the potential to offend through my participation, with my family, at Sunday's 2013 Sinterklaas event held in Halifax.
"While it is certainly uncomfortable to be in the lime light for what was intended to be a fun community event for the family kicking off the Christmas season, the resulting conversation, highlighting the underlying issues with black face and how it has played a role in suppressing people of African heritage, is a worthy and necessary one."