Toronto mom shocked to find 'disrespectful' toy resembling an Inuk inside Kinder Egg

·3 min read
Teresa Miller says she was shocked when she found her daughter's Kinder Surprise egg had a toy with what looked like an Inuk inside an igloo. (Submitted by Teresa Miller - image credit)
Teresa Miller says she was shocked when she found her daughter's Kinder Surprise egg had a toy with what looked like an Inuk inside an igloo. (Submitted by Teresa Miller - image credit)

A Toronto mother is outraged after finding a toy that resembles an Inuk inside an igloo in her daughter's Kinder Surprise egg.

Teresa Miller bought her daughter a Kinder Surprise egg as a treat while out grocery shopping around early February. Once her daughter devoured the chocolate and unveiled the toy, Miller was shocked.

"It's just disrespectful and unnecessary," she says. "I don't think there's any part of this that is remotely close to being something appropriate for a child or a toy that should be manufactured at all."

Suited in an orange parka, the figurine sits inside the igloo waiting to be launched on to what looks like a curling target. Miller, who is not Indigenous, says she used the opportunity as a teaching moment.

"We immediately had a conversation about how it's not appropriate. We don't use people's cultures as toys," she says. "I think it's important that more than Indigenous people start standing up for things that have happened that are not ideal and it shouldn't always be on their shoulders to have to defend everything."

Kirthana Sasitharan/CBC
Kirthana Sasitharan/CBC

Company doesn't commit to taking toy off shelves

Miller says she reached out to Ferrero Rocher, the company that makes the egg, but wasn't happy with their response.

"They stated that the toy was not supposed to depict any specific culture, except there's only one culture as far as I'm aware that make igloos. So that's a bit of a brush-off."

That's when Miller reached out to CBC Toronto about the issue.

When CBC Toronto reached out to Ferrero Rocher for comment, a company spokesperson said,"We're sorry that this toy caused offence. It is part of a general toy collection that is available globally, and is not designed to portray any specific culture."

The statement went on to say the company will take the feedback into account in the design of future toys.

As for whether it would remove the toy from store shelves, the company did not provide an answer.

Toy 'missed the mark,' says advocate

Muckpaloo Ipeelie, the CEO of Urban Inuit Identity Project, says she too was offended by the toy upon hearing about it.

"We're living and breathing people. We're involved in modern times and we're not all living in igloos. And sometimes people can get caught up in seeing imagery like this and start to believe that Inuit are prehistoric."

The Urban Inuit Identity Project is an organization that aims to educate different sectors like healthcare and social services, about the cultural uniqueness of urban Inuit people to advocate for culturally safe services.

While the chocolate company claims the toy wasn't supposed to depict any one culture, Ipeelie disagrees.

"It's absolutely an Inuit toy... they are Inuk in an igloo. There's no doubt about that," she says. "It's absolutely clear that Inuit were not included in the design process of this toy."

CBC Toronto asked the company whether any Inuit were involved in the creation of the toy. The company did not respond to that question.

Kirthana Sasitharan/CBC
Kirthana Sasitharan/CBC

Ipeelie says the company had an opportunity to design a toy that would would allow children to learn about Inuit in Canada.

"We are still here, and are not toys, and we are not here for the amusement of other people, "she said.

For her part, Miller says she wishes the company would remove the toy from shelves. While she's not sure she'll purchase a Kinder Surprise egg again, she feels consultation is needed.

"If you think making toys with a different cultural feel to them is something that you think is a business opportunity, then contact those cultures yourself and see what is appropriate."