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'Deighton cup' founders say they are 'disgusted' with aspects of 'Gassy Jack'

According to the Squamish Nation, Jack Deighton, known as "Gassy Jack," took a 12-year-old girl as his bride. Now, a petition calling for the removal of Deighton's statue in Gastown has gained 17,056 signatures.
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Photo: @EndingViolence / Twitter

Organizers of the annual Deighton Cup festival in Vancouver say they understand that the festival is named after a highly problematic individual.

According to the Squamish Nation, Jack Deighton, known as "Gassy Jack," married a 12-year-old Squamish girl who was known as Madeline, or X̱áliya. In 1871, they had a son together named Richard Mason Deighton.

The Deighton Cup founders released a statement for the 2020 event on June 19, writing that they learnt about Deighton's history through a 2019 CBC article. They say they are, "disgusted with the aspects of Jack Deighton’s life highlighted in the article," and immediately began working with Indigenous diversity and inclusivity experts. However, they aren't changing the name just yet. 

Jordan Kallman, one of the Deighton Cup's founders, tells Vancouver Is Awesome in an email that consultations have been underway since February of this year with Indigenous race relations experts.

"We agreed that renaming the event was not off-limits and is definitely part of a much larger, internal process," writes Kallman. "At the beginning of this conversation, the experts we were consulting with stated that renaming the event might not be immediately needed, and might not necessarily be the right move without taking on other foundational work first.

"Ultimately, we are in the middle of the work and increasing our circle of race relations consultants to inform our understanding and decision-making."

In their statement, the Deighton Cup founders add that they are expanding the, "inclusion and integration of Indigenous artists, designers and organizational staff, highlighting and amplifying the incredible talents of these makers and creators with the means we have available to us."

On July 19, 30 days after the statement's release,  organizers say they will provide a public update as well as the outline the company's next steps. 

Earlier this month, vandals defaced a statue of Gassy Jack in Vancouver's Gastown with red paint, which sparked a conversation about the controversial figure. 

As of 7 p.m. on June. 30, a petition calling for the removal of Deighton's likeness has gained 17,056 signatures.