Cindy Pendergast and Brad Styles, who own Happy Buddha Cannabis, with a figurine of Buddha in early December 2019. Siddhartha Gautama (later known as the Buddha) founded the religion some 2,500 years ago in India. The proposed name of the business now faces opposition for being religiously insensitive. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Sidney resident lights up proposed cannabis store for being insensitive toward Buddhism

Richard Talbot said proposed name insults Buddhists

The name of what could be Sidney’s first store selling recreational cannabis stands accused of being insensitive toward Buddhism.

Sidney resident Richard Talbot said the store’s proposed name of Happy Buddha Cannabis is “really insulting toward anybody who is a Buddhist or who has Buddhist friends.”

While not a Buddhist himself, Talbot said his has family ties to India, going back some 200 years. They raised him to be sensitive and respectful of all religions – a point also made toward the end of his letter sent to Sidney councillors, as they prepare to hear the case for or against the business proposed for the 2400-block of Beacon Avenue.

RELATED: Sidney drops notification of schools, daycares and parents before hearing on cannabis store

RELATED:Plans for pot shop in Sidney spark back to life

RELATED:Sidney’s first-ever pot store application flames out before council

While he has not heard directly from Buddhists themselves, they rarely speak up on these issues, he suggested.

“They are just offended and keep it for themselves,” he said. Talbot also wondered, “How on Earth would that have gone under the radar” against the backdrop of various social movements such as Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ2.

Cindy Pendergast and Brad Styles, who own Happy Buddha Cannabis, said they chose the name to reflect a “light-hearted and open” worldview.

“As experienced retailers of over 20 years and responsible parents and neighbours we always respect good dialogue,” they said in a note to the Peninsula News Review.

They said the Buddha name and symbol “are commonly seen, accepted and respected within personal and business environments” as any cursory Internet search would show.

“While we love the name Happy Buddha, we are also of the opinion that life, well-lived, should be about listening, learning and growing.”

According to the Pew Research Centre, Buddhists made up 7.1 per cent of the world’s population in 2010, just under 488 million. Countries with large Buddhist majorities include Thailand, Cambodia, and Myanmar with China home to the largest number of Buddhists in excess of 240 million. Sizable Buddhist populations also exist in Japan and South Korea. According to the 2011 census, Canada was home to 366,830 Buddhists, about 1.1 per cent of the population. Greater Victoria was home to 3,835 Buddhists in 2011. It is not clear how many Buddhists live in Sidney specifically and the Saanich Peninsula specifically.

Questions about the name of the store represent the latest twist in its story as the business faces Sidney councillors after a successful court challenge against the municipality following its initial denial over window rules since changed. Interested parties have until 4 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 18 to submit written comments to the Town of Sidney, which has scheduled a special public participation period for Monday, Sept. 28, during council’s regular meeting starting at 6 p.m.

Paula Kully, Sidney’s communications coordinator, said the municipality does not have any jurisdiction over businesses names. “This is a provincial government function,” she said.

Brendan Wright, senior public affairs officer with the ministry of attorney general, said the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB), said the office does not regulate business names beyond provincial requirements related directly to cannabis sales.

“For example, names and signage of a non-medical cannabis retailer cannot imply that they are a provider of medical cannabis, or indicate the store is associated with government,” he said.

Ultimately, it is licensee’s responsibility to determine the suitability of a name subject to existing rules, he said.


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘Each step is a prayer’: Ojibwe man will walk from Hope to Saanich for Indigenous healing, reconciliation

James Taylor departs Sept. 20, returns to Saanich in five days for sacred fire

Donated sculpture in Sidney’s Beacon Park a testament to perseverance

Victoria artist Armando Barbon picked up sculpting 22 years ago

Greater Victoria businesses come together to help Island kids

Langford Lowe’s raises funds for youth mental health all month

Sidney builds community resilience through neighbourhood gatherings

Meet Your Street needs residents to create gatherings, safe interactions

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

POLL: Do you plan on allowing your children to go trick or treating this year?

This popular annual social time will look quite different this year due to COVID-19

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Comox Valley protesters send message over old-growth logging

Event in downtown Courtenay was part of wider event on Friday

Application deadline for fish harvester benefits program extended

Those financially impacted by the pandemic have until Oct. 5 to apply

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Most Read