Halifax MLA posts racially charged photo

Joachim Stroink slammed for posing with man in 'blackface' at Dutch celebration

Halifax Chebucto MLA Joachin Stroink posing with a man wearing “blackface”. (Source: @joachimstroink)

At around 6 p.m. Sunday, Halifax Chebucto MLA Joachim Stroink posted a smiling photo of himself sitting on the lap of a man wearing “blackface” makeup.

Within hours Stroink’s Twitter feed exploded with criticism.

Blackface is a theatrical form of makeup used by white performers to represent a black person. Blackface is thought to be widely offensive, given its stereotyping of black people. Stroink was attending the Sinterklaas celebration, a popular Dutch tradition where Santa Claus and his “Black Peter” distribute gifts. Black Peter, or Zwarte Piet in Dutch, is similar to elves from the western tradition in his status as Santa Claus’s helper. The caption read, “Giving some love to Zwarte Piet and Sinterklaas thank you to the Dutch Community for putting this event on.” Stroink posted a photo earlier that day of two young girls receiving gifts from Santa Claus and his Black Peter. The caption of the photo read, “Anneke and Zo finally met Sinterklaas and they got their chocolate letter. Traditions are a great way to teach kids.” Shortly after 8 a.m. Sunday morning, Stroink posted a 274-word Facebook apology explaining the Sinterklaas tradition and its longstanding popularity in the province. 

“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,” Stroink added the conversation around his post is “worthy and necessary one.”