RCMP asks Kootenay cannabis shop to remove image of famous Mountie from storefront

RCMP asks Kootenay cannabis shop to remove image of famous Mountie from storefront
RCMP asks Kootenay cannabis shop to remove image of famous Mountie from storefront
RCMP asks Kootenay cannabis shop to remove image of famous Mountie from storefront

Jimmy’s Cannabis, which opened in Cranbrook last week, has been asked by the RCMP to remove an image of Sam Steele they have in the window due to copyright infringement.

Sam Steele is an important figure in western-Canadian history. At 16 he formed a militia to fight the Fenian raids, before joining the North-West Mounted Police in 1873, the year it formed. He helped provide order in the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush, settled tensions between the Ktunaxa people of the Kootenays and local settlers and served as a commanding officer of Strathcona’s Horse during the Boer War.

All cannabis retailers are required by law to prevent onlookers from being able to see into the store, usually by some form of glazed and opaque glass. Owner Jeff Weaver said the look was not very inviting, and — as a self-proclaimed history buff — opted instead to put up graphics that depict the heritage of the local area.

Weaver will have shops in Castlegar, Creston and Rossland, and all the stores will feature historical images both inside and out. The rustic interiors of the stores feature woodwork from local carpenters, and they’ll be adorned with heritage photographs.

“I wanted someone that to me was a little bit less controversial funnily enough,” Weaver explained, “because Colonel James Baker and his dealings with the Ktunaxa people is a little bit tricky. I thought Sam Steele, to me, is not just part of the fabric of Cranbrook but also illustrative of where we are in legalization where I actually see law enforcement now as a partner in this legalization project.”

Weaver said he not only has a deep reverence for the history of Steele, he believes that he is a symbol of compromise — part of his legacy involves resolving tensions between the local settlers and the Ktunaxa in the late 19th century.

“While I can understand certain individuals seeing that as maybe not how they would like Sam Steele to be used, and I’m still open to that conversation, at no point in time did i see this as anything other than a tribute to the RCMP and to Sam Steele’s legacy.”

On opening day, Weaver said a local RCMP officer came into the store. Through what he described as an extraordinarily friendly and respectful exchange, the officer asked that he remove the image, and Weaver initially agreed. However, after further consideration, he wants to continue the conversation.

“The most important thing for me is to have a good relationship with our local law enforcement,” Weaver said, “and if that in the end does not mean that Sam Steele can’t stay in our shop I’m open to that conversation, but I’d like to have it first.”

The Cranbrook RCMP declined an interview, however, a statement said images of the RCMP uniform are copyrighted.

“Cranbrook RCMP recently became aware of concerns raised that a local business was displaying an image portraying the iconic uniform of the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) and in turn the RCMP. Local officials took steps to confirm the images use was in breach. A representative from the local detachment spoke personally with the business owner and as a result he/she agreed to remove the photo.

“The owner of the business was not aware that the RCMP uniform is trademarked and a such cannot be used without the expressed permission of the national police force. The continued use of the image could be taken as an endorsement of the RCMP for that commercial entity, which we are precluded from doing. No orders were given, it was simply a conversation, which resulted in an agreement to have the image removed.”

Weaver said he is under the impression that the uniform Steele is wearing in the image is a military uniform from his service in the Boer War, complete with his Victoria Cross medal, rather than an RCMP uniform.

Weaver also suspects that the controversy may go beyond the issue of trademark, he thinks it could be more to do with the nature of his business, adding that he’s not using the image to sell anything, or using the image in combination with a logo or symbol of any kind.

“I think there was a bit of a knee-jerk reaction at first because I know things went straight to Ottawa,” Weaver said. “I would like to hear a little bit more from the RCMP as to why they feel that, because I don’t think it’s a trademark issue to be honest. I don’t think there’s any legal grounding for that, and I’ve not received an official response from them. So what I would like to hear from them is just why; is there another reason that they feel that his image should not be used in this way? Because I don’t feel that we’ve used him in a disrespectful manner whatsoever.”

Weaver believes that this could be due to residual stigma surrounding cannabis use despite its recent legalization. He feels that if a store selling widgets, shoes or even beer were to use the same image, there wouldn’t be a problem. He also pointed out the fact that Cranbrook’s only adult entertainment nightclub is located in the Sam Steele Inn.

“If my image had a pot leaf on his forehead or somehow treated him disrespectfully I’d understand but I just can’t help but feel this is more to do with the fact that we’re a cannabis shop,” Weaver said. “He is just below our sign and I think that can be tough to digest for some people but I honestly do believe that in six months to a year it will be normalized enough that people won’t see it in that light.

“I also just think that people need to eventually understand that there’s a lot of people who use this product that they know already and maybe they didn’t know use it and we’re people just like everybody else.”

Weaver reiterated that he will take the image down immediately if he is officially ordered to remove it.

“I am not interested in coming across as disrespectful to this old institution of the RCMP that keeps us safe,” Weaver said. “I just am open to a conversation about it and if it needs to go any further. I’m not sticking it in their face, I’m not trying to be a jerk, but I do feel very strongly about him. I didn’t just pick him out of the blue to throw him on the store, I did my research.”

Further complicating this matter for Weaver is that removing and replacing the sticker could be a problem due to the cold weather.

“We were rushing to get [the stickers] on the store and get open in time, because those stickers are only adhesive in certain temperatures,” Weaver said. “Once you go subzero you can’t get anything to stick back on there and we’d have to use a material that doesn’t let any light in and really effects our natural light.”



paul.rodgers@cranbrooktownsman.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An Interior Health nurse administers Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
105 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

Just over 8,000 new vaccine doses administered in the region for a total of 158,000 to date

Twin falls in Yoho National Park. Yoho is one of the mountain parks whose draft management plan is now available for review. (Claire Palmer photo)
Local input sought to shape future of mountain national parks

Banff, Yoho, Kootenay, Mount Revelstoke and Glacier national parks are amongst those seeking input

The last 400 bear-proof garbage bins will be rolled out this spring. Keri Sculland/Star Photo
The bear-proof garbage bins are a must to keep bears out of town. Keri Sculland/Star Photo
Bear bins required as weather warms

The Town is reminding people to make use of their bear bins now that the bears are back in town

Titanic was the largest and most luxurious ship in the world. Photo provided and colourized by Jiri Ferdinand.
QUIZ: How much do you know about the world’s most famous shipwreck?

Titanic sank 109 years ago today, after hitting an iceberg

In a feature article published April 10, 2021 in The Times of London, ‘headlined British Columbia has what it takes to rival Napa Valley,’ the valley is praised extensively for its natural beauty and wine. (File photo)
From the U.K. with love: Okanagan wine, scenery receives international praise

The Times of London newspaper recently featured the valley in a wine and travel piece

Arlene Howe holds up a picture of her son, Steven, at a memorial event for drug overdose victims and their families at Kelowna’s Rotary Beach Park on April 14. Steven died of an overdose at the age of 32 on Jan. 31, 2015. (Aaron Hemens - Kelowna Capital News)
Moms Stop the Harm members placed crosses Wednesday morning, April 14, on Rotary Beach in memory of children lost to drug overdoses. (Aaron Hemens - Capital News)
Kelowna mothers remember children lost to the opioid crisis

It has been five years since illicit drug deaths was announced a public health emergency

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

A Keremeos family lost their home after a fire shortly before midnight on April 13. No injuries were reported. (Contributed)
Keremeos home destroyed in late-night fire

The family inside was unharmed

Naloxone
Op/Ed: Interior Health CEO speaks on five years of strides and challenges in overdose crisis

In 2020, close to 4,000 people across IH had access to opioid medications

Somewhere in the pack being celebrated by his teammates is Vernon Vipers forward Zack Tonelli, who scored in overtime Wednesday afternoon, April 14, to give the Snakes a 6-5 win over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in B.C. Hockey League pod play at Kal Tire Place. (Liza Mazurek - Vernon Vipers Photography)
Vernon Vipers bite Salmon Arm Silverbacks in OT

Snakes blow 5-3 third-period lead, rally in extra time for 6-5 pod play result over rivals

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

New parking meters have been installed on Main Street, Ellis Street, Front Street, Nanaimo Avenue and Padmore Avenue in Penticton. (City of Penticton photo)
Pay parking now in effect in downtown Penticton

A spot downtown will now cost you $2 per hour

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Most Read