A Vancouver-based candle company has come under fire for a series of racist and threatening messages that a local sales agency says it received from the company's co-owner.
Over the weekend, the Warner McDaniel Agency shared a series of screenshots in an Instagram post that they say contain conversations with Nick Rabuchin of Vancouver Candle Co. The messages contain disturbing and hateful racist language.
"Racism is real and this is our story. Our business is woman-owned, and owned by a woman of colour. A proud black woman, born and raised in British Columbia. What we are sharing has left us speechless, heartbroken and silent," the company writes in an Instagram post.
"We have struggled with whether or not to share the hateful and discriminatory emails, text and messages from a business that we helped build and treated as family. A business many love, too."
After months of alleged threats and intimidation, the sales agency adds that it has filed a complaint with the Vancouver Police Department.
"In an attempt to support the changing paradigm, we choose to speak up. We choose to move forward with love, unity and respect. We believe that lifting one another up must rise to the forefront of the human experience. But it begins when we are unafraid. Black lives matter. Women’s lives matter. Enough is enough."
Vancouver Candle Co. responded by sharing an Instagram post that states: "Anyone who knows our brand knows that we believe in being honest and transparent, even when it's uncomfortable to do so."
The candle company apologized for, "any hurtful, inappropriate or racial comments," but adds that "there's many things that the original post by Warner McDaniel Agency does not disclose, most of which, due to ongoing litigation since 2019, we are not able to speak to."
The company also states that it does not know who the numbered message is from, but that the "texts named 'Vancouver Candle Co.' and 'Nicholas' are from us dating back to 2017."
A number of companies that Vancouver Candle Co. has worked with have responded in anger, sadness, and shock.
For example, Kristina at the Swank Social shared her own post expressing her anger at the company's words and also commented on their post that, "this makes me sad on so many levels. I wasn’t privy to knowing the full story, but now that I do, I’m absolutely SHOCKED. Christina is the godmother of my nephews. My husband is Jamaican and my kids are half. If I knew you held this kind of hate in your heart for our Black community, I never would have associated myself with you and your brand. There is no excuse for your words, Nick."
Forrest Glen Candle Co., an Ontario-based candle company stated it was a "poor excuse of an apology. You say you sympathize with her but it was your company that texted her those things? Not sure why you’re trying to defend yourself in the caption. Apologies don’t have “however” in them. I’d like you to also expand on the “in context or outside of context” comment because how are racial slurs ever in context?"
TV host and Senior Creative Producer for Hubcast Media, Fiona Forbes, commented "this is not an apology — it's a gaslighting word salad. Do better."
In a phone call, Forbes tells Vancouver Is Awesome that she was, "shocked, heartbroken and disgusted" after reading the post. While she says she has been fortunate not to personally experience racism, she underscores that people must stand up for each other and be allies. She also states that she is proud of Christina for sharing the messages. However, she says that this type of racist behaviour should never have happened in the first place.
A vast number of former customers have also stated that they will never purchase the company's candles again. One of them asks for a refund on the $22 candle that they recently purchased, while others say they'll throw their products in the trash.
The candle company also turned off the comments to its Black Lives Matter post. The post includes a quote from Martin Luther King Jr., and the caption reads: "Our hearts are completely broken due to the senseless violence and inequality that so many have endured for far too long. We find hope in knowing that LOVE always wins and we’re committed to using our platform to spread light through the darkness. We challenge you to do the same, we all must be better!"
V.I.A. has reached out to Vancouver Candle Co. for comment and will update the story when information becomes available.