A truly appalling and hateful email from a Canmore food company in response to a sponsorship request from Canmore Pride and the Crush Collective has sparked a swift response from the Canadian food and beverage community.
Canmore Pride was seeking sponsors for an inclusive and free climbing event that will take place shortly after Canmore’s Pride month and the response they received from Valbella Gourmet Foods was riddled with transphobic and homophobic insults from the family-owned business co-owner Jeff von Rotz.
The email, however, has led to a result the sender likely did not intend; in the hours after Canmore Pride shared the email online, the Canadian food and beverage community and Canadians at large have stepped up to show support to both Canmore Pride and the Cold Crush Collective.
Though Valbella has since backtracked and have claimed that the co-owner has been fired—which is a contentious claim in and of itself—multiple food and beverage businesses, including Sunterra Market, Spud.ca, and Cultivatr, have removed their products, while other businesses who had not previously had working relationships with Canmore Pride have privately messaged to offer various means of support.
Perhaps even more remarkably, Canmore Pride has turned the disheartening experience into an opportunity to educate its local community by launching a new Diversity and Inclusion Training program for local businesses.
“Canmore Pride with the support of Banff Pride and other local professionals has started a training program for businesses called the Bow Valley Pride Network in order to educate businesses on how diversity, equity, and inclusion concepts relate to the 2SLGBTQ+ community and how they can make their businesses more safe and inclusive spaces. The transphobic reply we received from a local business today further reinforces the importance of education in our community to keep members of our community safe,” Canmore Pride said in a recent statement.
Canmore Pride’s website is currently under construction, but the organization is accepting donations through e-transfer from those who wish to show their support.