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B.C. club cancels comedy show after group's Robert Pickton T-shirt causes outrage

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Warning: This article contains details and an image that some may find offensive.

A comedy club in New Westminster, B.C., has cancelled an upcoming show following outrage over the performers' sale of Robert Pickton T-shirts.

Rick Bronson's House of Comedy shared a statement on social media Tuesday announcing a scheduled performance by the Danger Cats, a Canadian comedy group, was cancelled "in light of recent concerns."

The post was deleted shortly after, but House of Comedy confirmed with CTV News Vancouver the show is still cancelled.

"While we value and support the freedom of expression in comedy, we recognize that the chosen material for this show has caused discomfort in our community," the now-deleted social media post said. "This was not our intent. Our goal has always been to provide a safe space for our guests to experience a brief escape and enjoy a night of laughs. We clearly missed the mark, and aim to do better."

The cancellation came after Danger Cats was criticized for selling a T-shirt that depicts a grinning cartoon Robert Pickton and the caption, "Over 50 Flavours of Hookery Smoked Bacon." The T-shirt is no longer available on the group's merchandise page, but it was sold out as of Monday evening.

Lorelai Williams, whose cousin Tanya Holyk is believed to be one of the serial killer’s many victims, said she was "overwhelmed with emotions" when the show was called off.

"I was just happy that it got cancelled," she told CTV News Vancouver. "So grateful that it's being cancelled, but (Danger Cats) still needs to be deplatformed in Canada."

Williams said the cancellation is a first step, but isn't enough of a response.

"When I found all this stuff out I felt nauseous and it retriggered my trauma," she said. "That post doesn't apologize to us. There's no apology there."

An online petition was started Monday calling on the comedy club to cancel the event, which was scheduled for March. By Tuesday afternoon, it had gathered more than 1,300 signatures.

"We must stand up against this form of entertainment that disrespects victims and their families while perpetuating harmful stereotypes about Indigenous communities," the petition on Change.org said.

"Please sign this petition to support our call for respect towards victims and their families. Your signature can make a difference in ensuring that such offensive content does not get a platform in our community."

Danger Cats addressed the controversy in a social media post Tuesday.

The group contradicted the announcement from House of Comedy, claiming to have voluntarily cancelled their New Westminster show and others in Edmonton and Ottawa over concerns that staff members would be threatened for hosting them.

Danger Cats also suggested the uproar over their merchandise had led to "arson" and "vandalism," though the group did not provide any further details.

CTV News reached out to Danger Cats this week, but has not heard back.

Addressing the Robert Pickton T-shirt, the comedy performers promised that "all proceeds" from the sales would "go to Ukraine."

 With files from CTV News Vancouver's Shannon Paterson 

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