Lululemon just can’t keep itself away from controversy.
Added to its laundry list of bad PR moments (right next to being accused of fat-shaming, the too-sheer yoga pant saga, and the brand’s controversial Dalai Lama donation) is now a poorly planned yoga event in the company’s hometown of Vancouver that has the city’s citizens saying “OMG!” instead of “om.”
Lululemon was one of three Canadian brands—including local yoga chain YYoga and AltaGas, a utility company—signed on to sponsor the city’s “Om the Bridge” International Yoga Day event, which was designed as a massive yoga class on the busy Burrard Street Bridge for June 21, 2015.
And while it might have been an well-intentioned idea, that date coincides with National Aboriginal Day, one of four national “Celebrate Canada” holidays (including Canada Day) meant to honor and celebrate the unique culture and heritage of millions of native Canadians—many of whom have faced unequal treatment in everything from education to healthcare throughout the country’s history.
This insensitive scheduling, combined with the enormous cost (a whopping $150,000 that falls on—you guessed it—taxpayers) and inconvenience of shutting down a major thoroughfare has caused an onslaught of backlash so great that the event has been cancelled, the Vancouver Sun reports.
The announcement comes after impassioned Vancouverites took to Twitter (naturally) to show their discontent, and the protests gained steam when the city’s mayor Gregor Robertson announced he wouldn’t be attending the event, choosing instead to celebrate National Aboriginal Day. The event was originally planned by Christy Clark, the Premier of British Columbia (AKA, the head of the entire province’s government), but even she rescinded her RSVP when it turned into a political firestorm.
Lululemon and their co-sponsors all announced last week that they’ve heard the community’s opinion, and will now search for a new, less obtrusive way to get their om on. In a park, perhaps? —Amy Marturana
For more information, visit www.vancouversun.com
(Top Photo: Instagram.com/Lululemon; Inset: Flickr/BCgovphotos)