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'This wasn't just a little oops': Regina city councillors blindsided by 'sexist' tourism slogans

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Regina city councillors say they were blindsided and embarrassed by the recent slogans used in Experience Regina’s rebrand.

Experience Regina, formally known as Tourism Regina, officially launched its rebranded strategy last Thursday along with slogans such as ‘the city that rhymes with fun’ and ‘show us your Regina.’

Coun. Terina Nelson, who attended the rebranding event, said she was caught off guard.

“I had no idea this was coming, none whatsoever. As a councillor, I was embarrassed,” Nelson said.

Backlash over the rebrand garnered international attention with the Experience Regina campaign making headlines in both The Washington Post and BBC.

“This wasn’t just a little oops, this was huge,” Nelson said.

City council approved funding for a Tourism Regina rebranding exercise during its budget deliberations in December, according to coun. Andrew Stevens.

However, councillors said they were not briefed beforehand on the campaign slogans.

“I guarantee you, if we would have had a snap shot of some of this branding it would have ended right there,” Stevens said.

Experience Regina is a city-funded, independent municipal corporation that reports to a board of directors and ultimately to city council.

City of Regina Administration does not have oversight or authority over the operations of Experience Regina, according to a city spokesperson.

Regina Exhibition Association Ltd. (REAL) took over tourism responsibilities from Economic Development Regina last year.

At the time, Regina Mayor Sandra Masters said REAL has a responsibility to the entire city and council will hold the group accountable.

However, Coun. Cheryl Stadnichuk questions why city council was not aware of the rebranded slogans. She said a serious meeting is needed between council and Experience Regina in order to hold the necessary people accountable.

“We need some accountability on who was involved, how much did they know, were these slogans shared with the board members of REAL, and who, if anyone, on council knew,” Stadnichuk said.

“Especially when there’s a lot of money being spent on a rebranding exercise, I think you want to make sure that there’s not going to be any problems with the messaging that’s along with that campaign.”

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Stadnichuk said councillors are “bearing the brunt of all the public outrage” as a result of the “sexist” slogans. She has received messages from both men and women who are upset.

“We have a problem with sexual violence in our city, so to have slogans that talk about ‘show us your Regina’ or ‘the city that rhymes with fun' is normalizing that women’s bodies are for sexual pleasure and I just think that’s really, really objectionable,” Stadnichuk said.

Saskatchewan has some of the highest rates of sexual violence in the country. Stadnichuk said police stats show the number of reported sexual assaults increased by roughly 16 per cent in Regina last year.

While Stadnichuk and Nelson are not sure if the Experience Regina rebrand can be salvaged, Stevens believes this is the city’s chance to “double down” on its commitment to address sexual violence against women.

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