What’s the difference between teal and blue? This question of hue is at the centre of a controversy this week at the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo, which caused the Tattoo to break off its relationship with one of its partners.
The partner in question is VALOUR Maritime Society, a “non-profit company” that sells branded apparel to raise money for organizations that support veterans and first responders with PTSD. VALOUR had partnered with the Tattoo to help distribute “Thank a Veteran Tickets,” a discounted ticket to the Tattoo that people can purchase to be given to a veteran for free.
on Twitter from Steve MacKay, who you may recognize as the raccoon of Robie Street—for displaying VALOUR’s logo, which bears a striking resemblance to the controversial thin blue line flag. For some, the thin blue line flag is meant to honour police killed in the line of duty, or signifies solidarity between police. For others, it represents an “us vs them” mentality in law enforcement at best, and has been co-opted as a white supremacist symbol at worst. American versions of the thin blue line flag have shown up at rallies against the Black Lives Matter Movement and the 2017 Unite the Right white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Police forces across Canada, including the RCMP, Calgary Police, Saint John Police and the Halifax Regional Police, have directed officers not to wear thin blue line patches.
By that evening, the statement had been removed from the Tattoo’s website and replaced with a message saying “upon further review, we have decided to end our partnership with VALOUR Maritime Society. Thank you to everyone for bringing this matter to our attention.”
“To say I was disappointed is an understatement,” Graham Walsh says in an interview with The Coast. “We are a non-profit society operated by serving and retired RCMP, first responders and veterans, and it's a teal ribbon through a Canadian flag. That is what it is.”
Now, confusing teal for blue is an easy mistake, is it not? Colorpsychology.org defines teal as “a medium to deep blue-green color.” Walsh says after the Tattoo ended the partnership, he got messages of support from people. “They understand it’s a teal line, it’s not blue,” he says. On the other hand, this is not the first time the colours have been mixed up. “We do explain that to people if they ask, ‘oh is that the thin blue line?’ No, it’s not the thin blue line, it’s a teal line to support and promote awareness,” he says. Walsh says “some educational information on our social media” might help the confusion.
That could be useful, because alongside its teal—not blue—flag, VALOUR uses the hashtag #thinblueline on its social media, which makes it seem as if the organization doesn’t see the difference either. “I'm not going to deny that we use it, but that's something that I'm going to have a meeting about with our board of directors moving forward,” Walsh says.
He also points out that some performers in the Tattoo are displaying thin blue lines. “We have teal lines because we're not representative of the thin blue line, but they actually have performers in the Tattoo performing with a thin blue line on their uniforms and on their drums, but we're being cast away by the Tattoo,” he says.
“We were just trying to help the veteran community, and now we are the ones that now have this negative cloud over us,” Walsh says. “We're trying to make sure that this doesn't, you know, basically shut VALOUR Maritime Society down.”
Scott Long, managing director of the Tattoo, says he will not be commenting on the matter at this time. The Tattoo’s 2022 run ends Saturday, July 2.