In 2010, the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) produced a mass-manufactured sweater as a part of the official merchandise for the Vancouver Winter Olympics. The sweater turned into a national media controversy, with reporters and the public questioning whether the HBC committed an act of appropriation. In local and provincial newspapers, representatives of the Cowichan Nation stated that the HBC sweater shared many of the same characteristics as a Cowichan sweater. The Cowichan sweater is a traditional Indigenous hand-knitted item crafted by several Coast Salish bands throughout Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia; the main producers of the sweater are knitters from the Cowichan Nation, located in what is now
known as Duncan, BC.
This essay, published in Articulate (vol.2, no.2), focuses looking at the HBC sweater as an act of cultural appropriation, and how this is harmful for the Cowichan people due to their economic reliance, how the sweater misrepresents of Cowichan peoples, and the sweater continuing colonization.
Knitting for Our Lives- The Appropriation of Cowichan Sweaters by the Hudson’s Bay During the 2010 Vancouver Olympics