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

(File photo)
Case of COVID-19 confirmed in School District 69 (Qualicum)

Individual was at PASS/Woodwinds, with a last date of attendance of Jan. 22

The Qualicum Beach Cafe team: from left, host owner Eli Brennan, general manager Amy Turner, host owner/chef Alan Tse, chef de cuisine Todd Bright, sous chef Jack Mitchell and pastry chef/baker Noemie Girard. (Submitted photo)
Fresh start: Qualicum Beach Cafe set to offer West Coast dining

New operators bring wealth of culinary, hospitality experience

Professional hockey goalie Connor LaCouvee of Qualicum Beach. (PQB News file photo)
Qualicum Beach goalie Connor LaCouvee joins AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners

Backstop returns to North America after stint in Slovakia

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

The sky above Mt. Benson in Nanaimo is illuminated by flares as search and rescuers help an injured hiker down the mountain to a waiting ambulance. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Search and Rescue)
Search plane lights up Nanaimo mountain with flares during icy rope rescue

Rescuers got injured hiker down Mt. Benson to a waiting ambulance Saturday night

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

A long-term care worker receives the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)
All Island seniors in long-term care will be vaccinated by the end of this weekend

Immunization of high-risk population will continue over the next two months

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Most Read