WalMart panned for selling ‘Newfie’ Paddy’s Day T

Tara Bradbury
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Gag shirt offensive to some

Some Irish eyes are glaring, not smiling, at WalMart for selling a St. Patrick’s Day T-shirt they feel is derogatory and offensive.

“St. Paddy’s Newfie Beer Removal Service — pints, pitchers, kegs” is printed in white lettering on the green T-shirt along with an image of a beer stein. The shirts bear tags from a company called Rock Gear.

Great Big Sea band member and local restauranteur Bob Hallett noticed the shirts at the Mount Pearl WalMart a little over a week ago, and posted a photo on Twitter with the caption, “Really, WalMart? We’ve got to get past this shit.”

“While lots of Newfoundlanders are comfortable with the term Newfie, there are just as many who are not, and I count myself in that number,” Hallett told The Telegram. “Like so many other racial slurs, context is everything — if the group in question wishes to use it themselves, that is one thing. For a worldwide corporation to put it on T-shirt is quite another."

While some Twitter users disagreed and claimed those with a problem with the shirts were being oversensitive and too politically correct, the majority of responses were from people who shared Hallett’s point of view and called the shirt derogatory.

“This is extremely offensive and not acceptable,” tweeted Joanie Perry Sears, tagging WalMart Canada directly.

WalMart replied: “We have checked with our stores and can confirm we are not selling this shirt.”

Three days later, piles of the shirts were still available at at least two St. John’s WalMart locations. In an email, a WalMart Canada spokesman indicated Monday the organization would provide a statement in response to The Telegram’s inquiries about the shirt, however no statement was given as of deadline.

The Telegram could find no information on Rock Gear t-shirts.

“WalMart is famously organized and detail oriented — someone saw that shirt and decided it was OK. It isn’t,” Hallett said.

“I have spent my career singing, writing and talking about the culture of Newfoundland, and while celebration is a big part of that culture, ‘Newfie Beer Removal’ is an idiotic way to describe it.”

Related stories:

Halifax-response to naming of Newfie Lane astounds expatriate

Majority not bothered by term Newfie: survey

That dratted word again — Bob Wakeham column

Organizations: Wal-Mart Canada, WalMart, The Telegram Newfie Beer Removal Service

Geographic location: Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • Free Market Commerce
    February 24, 2016 - 12:00

    I can only say that government is not giving these shirts away in swag bags, people are choosing when buying them. Wal-mart is a box store. Not The Rooms.

  • susan
    February 23, 2016 - 21:03

    Get a life,too foolish,I find the term endearing and I'm born and bread!!!!

    • JJoyced Thanks.
      February 25, 2016 - 00:03

      I am bread for being a Newfie two. There is fighting in freedom still, not utopia. Like swingers in threesomes. We are not fighting naught but our own bread & roll mix. Heave away, haul away, look at the sea of controversy. Wedging us against TRUMP'S AMERICA? Why begin at Wal-Mart and not the local...ok, New York Values? Price is the law. Costco has good connections. Mitts. T-Shirts. But not these shirts. In bulk! Are we like Canada, and ready to look at America and say, "we dig your hip supply chain management, but loath your stereotype gear? Holy Maple Moose Burgers! Cod fish on a stick.

    • What?
      February 25, 2016 - 11:19

      "...born and bread" 'Bread'? Really? So, are you white or whole wheat? Ha! Just goes to show the ones who don't mind being insulted and degraded are too stupid to recognize the fact. Sad that the ignorant are always the loudest.

  • Sky
    February 23, 2016 - 19:46

    When did people get so uptight? If someone wants to pay for and wear one of these shirts..that is their right.... If you are offended by them, don't wear one. They must be selling them to Newfoundlanders every year or they would not be continuing to manufacture and distribute them! Life is short! You can't get the time back that you wasted reading about this... And unfortunately, neither can I now!

  • Newfoundlander
    February 23, 2016 - 19:15

    I would ask if there are any similar T shirts with similar names and captions for the other provinces? Quebec? Ontario? PEI? Nova Scotia? Any one who likes to be referred to as a 'Newfie' from 'the Rock ' has no shame or dignity. If any other demographic group were treated as we are , there would be considered charter of rights and/or legal issues. Time we took a stand.

    • JJoyced Thanks.
      February 25, 2016 - 00:05

      There are none whatsoever. We are unique in this struggle my friend. Be resilient.

  • LPG
    February 23, 2016 - 18:43

    The term is never uttered in a complimentary or endearing way . It is the same as a nickname labeled on someone for a supposed flaw. It is a mean handle meant to cast Newfoundlanders and Labradorians as shiftless, backward louts.

  • Mark
    February 23, 2016 - 18:19

    Nothing to see here....

  • Alfie
    February 23, 2016 - 17:38

    NEWFIE NEWFIE NEWFIE!!! So there, get over it.

  • RC
    February 23, 2016 - 16:41

    I guess other t-shirts playing up Newfoundland 'beer drinking' stereotypes are okay as long as they don't use 'Newfie'? there's the long sold Newfoundland Drinking Team t-shirts available. they are no better. still playing to the stereotype.

  • Samuel J.
    February 23, 2016 - 16:21

    This tempest in a teapot does raise a bigger issue - what to call people from Newfoundland and Labrador. Newfoundland and Labradorian is quite a mouthful; not surprising people would find short-cuts. Maybe we could have something like the flag contest to come up with a better handle. Might even distract us from our fiscal woes. I'll start the ball rolling with my own suggestion - Newlander. Retains some historical nuance but cuts it down quite a bit. The urban dictionary defines Newlander as a person who is automatically cool, intelligent and interesting. How about a show of hand?

  • GreenNewfie
    February 23, 2016 - 14:38

    I completely disagree with Bob Hallett - a man who has obviously downed a few beer in his lifetime and sung a few tunes about drinking. Get real, if your hide is that thin you definitely need a few green beers. How about we start telling Great Big Sea what they can write songs about and what words they use - you wouldn't like that, would you Bob? And Bob, when did you join the women's temperance league?

  • paul
    February 23, 2016 - 14:21

    I agree with Bob.If this shirt had the words Indian on it there would be a lawyer calling the store and threatening to sue for racism. same should apply to the term newfie. 159

  • Aub
    February 23, 2016 - 13:31

    I prefer the term "Newfie" to the oft used term by many educated people---"Newfoundlanders and Labradorians". That refers to two different groups of people.

    • mary
      February 23, 2016 - 17:20

      Well, Aub, the educated people know that the use of Newfoundlander and Labradorian resulted from the complaints that Labradorians felt left out when only the term Newfoundlander was used. I agree with Bob Hallett that term "newfie" is offensive. It is rarely used with a positive connotation. Seems Walmart doesn't take the concern very seriously and that is a reflection how "newfie" is a derogatory term and one that many still agree with. "WalMart replied: “We have checked with our stores and can confirm we are not selling this shirt.” Three days later, piles of the shirts were still available at at least two St. John’s WalMart locations."

  • Amilee
    February 23, 2016 - 13:15

    Is it the term Newfie that offends you, or the way in which it was used? Wonder if Americans were offended by the term "Yankee" in a certain song or two sung by GBS? I don't particularly like the term, but I like hypocrites less.

    • Starr
      February 23, 2016 - 13:58

      this is not about Yankees!

  • Shirley
    February 23, 2016 - 13:10

    I agree with Bob Hallett 100%. Wild Rose! you must really enjoy your own company and the lime light! Really!

  • Oh my
    February 23, 2016 - 11:44

    Much ado about nothing.

  • RU Kidding
    February 23, 2016 - 11:26

    Get over yourselves by' , weez all abunch of newfies wedder you likes it ur not my sun , lol. But seriously people , Newfoundlanders are Well Known World Wide for having a great sense of humor you seem to have lost yours , may I suggest relaxation therapy , yoga , psychological help or maybe some medications to help those of you that are offended. I was at a training seminar in Nova Scotia some time ago and after supper some of the guys said lets go to the bar for a few beers to mark the occasion because we'll probably never get a chance to be in the same room and sit at a table together for several more years.(turns out dem mainlanders likes to drink too) So as the night passed one guy was telling jokes and the drunker he got the faster the jokes came , so he tells 4 or 5 Newfie jokes in a row and no one laughed , he looked around kinda funny and one of the others said " That guy is from Newfoundland" pointing at me. His face straightened up quickly and he apologized profusely. I quickly told him not to worry and I was not in the least bit offended . As a matter of fact I looked around to a table full of embarrassed faces while I laughed and asked them " Do you know why Newfie jokes are so simple ? " , "No" was the red faced reply. I said " So yee mainlanders can understand them " one guy almost fell out of his chair while peeing in his pants a little , saying " I never knew you had Mainlander Jokes Too " As far as I'm comcerned those who are offended don't get it , To be called a Newfie is a compliment of the highest order.

  • Rob
    February 23, 2016 - 11:19

    If that tshirt said "Irish" instead of the other "N" word, would there be an issue. I'm sure if he had a bunch of people wearing them on the 17th of March, drinking in his pub, nothing would be said. Anything to stay in the media spotlight I suppose.

  • BoF
    February 23, 2016 - 11:11

    A lot of people like the term "newfie", they'd rather believe it's a term of endearment than have to deal with the fact that it's an insult. You Newfies continue to be newfies and us Newfoundlanders will continue to be proud Newfoundlanders.

  • Bob Hallett
    February 23, 2016 - 11:09

    Hey, I didn't call the Telegram, they called me. All I did was tweet a photo of a shirt that I thought was really, really stupid, and demeaning to those who hate the term 'Newfie'. Of which there are quite a few. And it's amazing how often the words 'thin-skinned' and 'no sense of humour' are used by bullies.

    • Jenny
      February 23, 2016 - 11:24

      You're exactly right, Bob. It's a stupid, insulting shirt and bullies always make themselves known with their comments.

    • Living Away
      February 23, 2016 - 12:19

      I am with Bob on this. I live in Alberta and hate the way the word Newfie is used by both Newfoundlanders and non Newfoundlanders up here. No need for it.

    • Maureen
      February 23, 2016 - 12:56

      Offence to term "Newfie" aside, The emphasis in this article is the fact that these shirts are being sold by the large corporation that is Walmart, when in fact they are also being sold at our local Pipers. No mention or investigation of other retailers in this article.

    • JimJam
      February 23, 2016 - 22:19

      I drank sixteen doubles for the price of one Trying to find the courage to talk to one I asked her for a dance Not a second glance My night had just begun Well I drink to the father and the holy ghost I'm kneeling at the altar of my nightly post So I'll raise a glass, not the first nor last Come join me in this toast [Chorus:] Because the old black rum's got a hold on me Like a dog wrapped round my leg And the old black rum's got a hold on me Will I live for another day? Hey, will I live for another day? Well the queen of George street just went walking on by Walking on by with some guy who don't care That she stood in line Since half past nine And spent three hours on her hair (On her hair!) Well her friend is looking at me with an evil grin I think the bloody racket might soon begin I must have said some thing To the George street queen The boys are joining in! [Chorus] So I drank all of my money And I slept out in the rain Everyday is different but the nights they're all the same You never see the sun on the old black rum But I know I'm gonna do it again! [Chorus 2x]

    • John Sheaun
      February 24, 2016 - 11:49

      Amazing how often the term Bully is used by grown adults. I guess you won't be having a stereotypical Irish drinkfest on St. Paddy's Day this year

  • james
    February 23, 2016 - 11:03

    drunk newfie stereotypeing

  • Job
    February 23, 2016 - 10:56

    Believe it or not, not everyone from Newfoundland is a beer guzzling idiot. Those that are, will be seen wearing this shirt, thinking it's cute.

  • Not Sensitive
    February 23, 2016 - 10:08

    This is crazy.. what's next.. Christmas is offensive.??. the Easter Bunny is offensive..?? what about the Tooth fairy.. is she a feminist ? Its a day that we capitalize on. Its a shirt.. there are tons of store in the DT area that sell stuff like that. and what about the "newfie shop" as someone mentioned before.. they have been selling "Newfie Girl" shirts and "newfoundland drinking team" shirts for YEARS. Its not like Walmart made the decision to carry this shirt cuz they want to "get back" at newfies.. cuz that's what we are. So everyone needs to grow up.

  • David Wilson
    February 23, 2016 - 10:07

    Really, Bod Hallett, do you have anything else better to be complaining about. Move along!! We have collectively heard enough from you.

    • Bod
      February 23, 2016 - 11:21

      Do you mean BOB Hallett? He can say what he likes, he's allowed to have an opinion and it's good of him to speak up. I agree with him 100 percent. Stupid, idiotic shirt.

  • Maureen
    February 23, 2016 - 10:04

    While I do understand that some people are offended by the term "Newfie", I myself am not. Born and bred in Newfoundland, I prefer to see it as a term of endearment. What I would like to point though, especially to all the Walmart bashers, is that I bought this t-shirt last week, at our local Pipers store. Has anyone contacted them?

    • The real Calvin
      February 23, 2016 - 11:02

      Come on Maureen, only Newfies shop at Piper's, tough crowd to offend. Unlike the yuppy scum who shop at Wally World....

  • Jim
    February 23, 2016 - 10:00

    I am also tired! Tired of hearing the ongoing cry from the whiners who just don't understand the joy I get from being referred to as a NEWFIE! It is, in fact, part of our culture. I live in Manitoba and when I refer to myself as a newfie, I get nothing but praise because of who we are.

  • YoungOne
    February 23, 2016 - 09:44

    These shirts are also being sold at Pipers Department Stores. I saw them in store yesterday.

  • Ev
    February 23, 2016 - 09:36

    I believe the term Newfie was invented by American service men who did not mean it as a term of endearment, it was sometimes said as goofy Newfie, but later goofy got dropped, maybe Disney complained of infringement on the name of one of their cartoon characters. People who use slang words to describe others usually feel superior to those they insult.

    • Joe
      February 23, 2016 - 10:40

      Ev: That may be the case that it was invented by American serviceman who grew up for the most part in the backwoods and had nothing so the joined the service. I also think the term may have originated in the 50s when there was a migration of Nflders to Ontario. They were generally uneducated, rough, and spoke differently. They appeared different so they somehow got the name. A taxi driver in Toronto told me once that all easterners were called goofie newfies. I don't believe that. I know a man from Ontario that I see every year in Florida . He used to use newfie in a belittling fashion and has been corrected by some Nflders who don't like it. I grin and show I'm proud to be from Nfld and brag about the success of so many" newfies." He has changed his opinion. If he asks if someone is a newfie, I say, I think he is a nflder. He has more money than me but thats it.

    • james
      February 23, 2016 - 11:14

      you are correct Americans did, it came about because newfies would not work on construction once spring came around they all wanted to fish ,I believe it was when they were building the base in st, john,s it goes something like that

  • Steve Austin
    February 23, 2016 - 09:27

    Isn't there a store in the Avalon Mall called "The Newfie Shop"? Where is the outcry?

    • DCinCBS
      February 23, 2016 - 11:01

      Jim...In case you are not aware of the origins of the term "Newfie" ( and it appears that you're not ) it was coined by a U.S.Army Lieut. Silliman who, in a report, stated that "Newfys (sic) and ni**ers were the same, lazy and useless! If that makes you proud I'm at a loss for words.

    • DCinCBS
      February 23, 2016 - 11:03

      "The Newfie Shop" rightly changed it's name to "The Newfoundland Shop" quite some time ago.

  • Duffy
    February 23, 2016 - 09:26

    Get over it.....because some banjo playing band guy didn't like it we are suppose to get all excited. Those with personal pride, that feel good about themselves, are confident - just laugh along with others and enjoy the honor of being a "Newfy".

  • Rob
    February 23, 2016 - 09:20

    We in NL have some of the highest consumption rates of alcohol in NORTH AMERICA as well as the 2nd highest number of DRUNK DRIVERS in Canada. Fact of the matter is if the "Shirt Fits, Wear IT" NL'ers. We don't like it because it's the bold, in our face truth. Nothing to do with being called NEWFIES. Fact is if there is a Keg, or a Pint or a Bottle lying around you can bet your bottom dollar a NEWFIE will travel to get it, consume it and then take the empty container for proper disposal, all while "Maybe in some cases".... Driving a VEHICLE! Fact

    • Duffy
      February 23, 2016 - 21:07

      Some truth in that sir............... NL consumes more alcohol per capita than any other Province - by a wide margin. We also have other statistics that may not be a great honor also.

  • Jk
    February 23, 2016 - 09:17

    People are to sensitive. Why would you find this so "offensive"? I think there are bigger problems in Newfoundland to worry about! People who complain about this stuff are the ones who are out there looking for something to complain about. I enjoy the shirt and I will wear this with pride on St. Paddy's day. Thank you Rock Gear, I look forward to more of you product.

  • Steve Austin
    February 23, 2016 - 08:59

    Isn't there a store in the Avalon Mall called "The Newfie Shop"? Where is the outcry?

    • The real Calvin
      February 23, 2016 - 09:32

      Right on the nose there Steve. You are bound to offend someone simply by speaking. I heard a friend spewing the same anti "Newfie" rhetoric recently, and in the same sitting he referred to Mexicans as Beaners and made a joke about his wife in the kitchen....

    • Joe
      February 23, 2016 - 11:04

      LOL, you read enough of the story for it to compel you to comment on it, so to the reporters I say job well done. PS, you must have missed the Telegram's front-page coverage of council issues and provincial debt, did you? Maybe it just didn't move you enough to comment like this story did.

    • Joe
      February 23, 2016 - 11:27

      Sorry, my previous comment about council and provincial debt was posted in response to someone on a totally different story. Not sure how it got posted here.

  • Joe
    February 23, 2016 - 08:52

    Newfie is a word only acceptable to be be used by Newfoundlanders and NOBODY else. It is becoming less popular and more sensitive no doubt. I rarely hear it and never hear it from young people. When I hear a mainlander use it I leave it to their ignorance. I don't feel we should be too sensitive. I do appreciate Great Big Sea opposing it because they have been great ambassadors for NL. WalMart is totally out of line

    • Debbie
      February 23, 2016 - 10:13

      Sorry but that's BS. If it's not ok, it's not ok for anyone.

  • Taylor
    February 23, 2016 - 08:24

    Don't like the shirt, don't buy the shirt. Personally, I think it is cute, and a great St. Paddy's Day item. Then again, I am not sensitive to the term Newfie.

  • Catherine
    February 23, 2016 - 07:38

    Totally unacceptable. I find these T-Shirts to be extremely offensive. I suggest the Managers of local Walmart Stores, remove them from their shelves. Just imagine if this was an offensive T-Shirt about another culture containing a slang term and offensive, stero-type comments - I'm sure if that was the case, charges would probably be laid. So why are we expected to laugh and accept it? From the song The Spirit of Newfoundland (Written by Peter Halley & Kathie Hicks) " We have our rocky shores and mighty seas , Our rolling fog and salt sea breeze . We are a people proud and strong, From Newfoundland and Labrador.

  • Wild Rose
    February 23, 2016 - 07:21

    Derogatory and offensive? Get over it you Newfies. They're telling it like it is. There's to much political correctness already. It's just a little fun. Besides, it's something you can spend your pogey checks on.

    • Proud Newfoundlander
      February 23, 2016 - 09:22


    • Political Watcher
      February 23, 2016 - 09:59

      By the looks and sounds of it ole Wild Rose there will be little pogey cheques to go around once Alberta gets theirs. Must be very difficult to accept that good old Alberta has to go to a Liberal Government in Central Canada and ask for handouts! P.S. Where is my earlier comment? Bob Hallet has no place to talk here as he was part of a group that went around the globe asking "Whatta Ya At"? I find that offensive!

    • Joe
      February 23, 2016 - 10:50

      Wild Rose: You must be one of the red neck Albertans jealous that the Newfoundlanders are harder workers than you and taking "your Jobs". Last time I checked your group took the pledge, if you know what that means.

    • DCinCBS
      February 23, 2016 - 10:52

      Wild Rose...Your statement is a prime example of why the term is offensive!

  • Vic
    February 23, 2016 - 06:58

    Bob Hallett is right, it's offensive and strange that Wal-Mart buyers thought it would be ok to sell. Replace "Newfie" with any other background of people and see what happens. A giant corporation like Wal-Mart should know better, and what's up with them denying they sell the shirt at all and not answering questions about it????

  • Ok with some
    February 23, 2016 - 06:42

    I find the term "Newfie" offensive as well, along with the stereotyping. However, most Newfoundlanders find it funny and even tell Newfie jokes themselves. This gives the world permission to mock us. So, as long as Nflders do that, the world will do it. The ones who don't find it offensive and continue to laugh at it, are true to the stereotype and are absolute Newfs. Be proud, for God's sake! Act properly!

  • JR
    February 23, 2016 - 06:39

    I totally agree with Bob Hallett

  • suck it up
    February 23, 2016 - 05:57

    Iguess the truth hurts some newfies huh. that's all people do around here is drink . drink first thing in the morning , during the day and most of the night. add that to drinking and driving on a daily basis , then the jekkl and hyde drinkers and you have newfoundland.if people don't like the image they have given themselves then change it. you're your own worst enemy.

  • Patrick
    February 23, 2016 - 05:25

    A man in the USA is famous for buying ALL the offensive Irish stereotypical t-shirts leading up to every St. Patrick's Day and then returning them, with the bags and tags attached, the day after St. Patrick's Day. He certainly proves his point. I suggest we do the same here with these ones.

  • Ken Collis
    February 23, 2016 - 05:23

    This nonsense is getting out of hand. Can I call you a townie? Can you call me a bayman? I'm pretty sure Hallett is a yuppie but am I allowed to say so? Someone finds the shirt "extremely offensive" I think your 'extreme' setting is set way too low. Next to come will be the folks who find it 'extremely offensive' that Hallett posts the word "shit" on twitter.

    • Reg Norris
      February 23, 2016 - 15:28

      Two things I am proud of.....I am a Newfie and a Bayman..