An Inuksuk garden statue Home Depot was selling for $99 in stores and online is no longer available for purchase after an Inuk customer raised concerns. (Photo courtesy of Josh Pamak/Facebook) Jeff Pelletier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Home Depot is removing an Inuksuk garden ornament from its store shelves after an Inuk customer raised concerns that the product appropriated Inuit culture.

Josh Pamak, who is originally from Nain in Nunatsiavut but now lives in Halifax, said he saw the item while he was shopping for gardening supplies.

The product was labelled as an “Inukshuk,” measuring 69 centimetres tall and with a $99 price tag. Edmonton garden decoration company Angelo Décor is listed as the manufacturer.

Pamak said his first reaction on seeing the product was that he thought it was neat. But after some thought, he had a change of heart.

“It’s a bit disheartening to see a major corporation like Home Depot selling something like an Inuksuk that comes from Indigenous cultures, when obviously the corporation’s from outside of those cultures,” he said in an interview Friday.

“In my opinion, [Home Depot] doesn’t really have a place to be making profit off of marginalized cultures in Canada or the rest of North America.”

Pamak wrote to the company outlining his concerns about the product, saying it disrespects the spiritual and historical importance of the Inuksuk to Inuit.

The Inuksuk, which roughly translates to “in the likeness of a human,” is a prevalent symbol of Inuit culture. Traditionally, the stone figures are used to guide travellers, warn of dangers and identify hunting areas. They can also be used to mark places of reverence.

Pamak asked Home Depot to stop selling the product, and that the corporation look for ways to engage in meaningful dialogue with Indigenous people by instead selling works made by real artisans.

Within days, Pamak’s concern was heard.

Home Depot contacted him on Monday to say it will remove the product. The link to the product’s page on Home Depot’s online store is now broken.

In an emailed statement to Nunatsiaq News, Home Depot Canada said it conducted an internal review once the company received concerns.

“As a result, we have made the decision to remove this product from our stores and website,” the statement said. “We are committed to fostering an inclusive and respectful culture and value customer feedback on all matters.”

Pamak posted on Facebook Monday to say he was happy to see that his concern was heard.

“I don’t think it’s wrong for Home Depot to be selling products like the Inuksuk, but I would like for them to purchase those products from an Inuit company,” he said.

“And any other Indigenous works that they want to sell, I would hope that they were buying them from Indigenous partners rather than getting them mass produced at a factory in some unknown area.”

By Jeff Pelletier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 06, 2023 at 09:16

This item reprinted with permission from   Nunatsiaq News   Iqaluit, Nunavut
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