U.S. President Donald Trump proudly announced this week that he came up with his 2016 campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again," all by himself. MAGA has been emblazoned on various apparel, the most notable of which is the all-American baseball cap often seen at pro-Trump rallies.
While the slogan — an updated version of former President Ronald Regan's "Let's Make America Great" catchphrase — may have helped Trump win the presidency, it has also become synonymous with the anti-immigrant and anti-minority views and policies of his administration. And the xenophobic sentiment associated with Trump's motto is spreading beyond America's borders.
But, one Canadian company is hoping to change that.
"Welcome to Canada" is emblazoned on a bright, red toque manufactured by Toronto-based clothing brand Peace Collective.
The newly launched hat, which has its slogan stitched on in white embroidered letters that look similar to the MAGA cap's, is the brainchild of Toronto-based creative ad agency Zulu Alpha Kilo, which conceived of the idea for Peace Collective.
Roman Hessary, head of growth at Peace Collective, said the company hopes to transform the negativity associated with MAGA into a more welcoming, Canadian stance.
As Canadians we take pride in our country, our city, our team, and ourselves. We believe we can make our country great by welcoming everyone to our home. - We wanted to make something that reflected those values. So, we created the 'Welcome to Canada' toque as a symbol of love and acceptance. We hope you'll join with us in our mission to #UnravelHate. - With each purchase, profits will be donated to WoodGreen Community Services, a charity that helps immigrants and refugees settle into their new lives in Canada. #WelcomeToCanada #HomeIsCanada
"Being proudly Canadian has always been at the core of our values," he told HuffPost Canada. "We don't believe in what the MAGA hat has come to symbolize over time. And neither do a lot of people. So we wanted to take a stand and show the world that acceptance is stronger than hate."
Hessary, who immigrated to Canada from Afghanistan at age 11, said his family found refuge and a safe haven here, so he could pursue his dreams — an end goal for most who emigrate from politically unstable regions.
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Peace Collective worked with Zulu Alpha Kilo to bring the concept to life. They created a video displaying a MAGA hat, with its slogan being unravelled letter-by-letter, in between takes of five different Canadians telling their stories about what the MAGA hat symbolizes to them, why they immigrated to Canada and why they are proud to call it home.
Among the participants are Aorwa, a Syrian refugee who fled the Syrian civil war; Cori, an LGBTQ American who now resides in Canada; and Victor, an immigrant from Uganda.
Watch Peace Collective's video: Canadians talk about why they immigrated to Canada. Story continues below.
"What you're telling me is that in order for this to be great again, you have to kick out a bunch of people and build up walls to keep people out," said Victor of the MAGA hat.
The "Welcome to Canada" toques are being sold on Peace Collective's website, and the original toque made with MAGA-hat threads is being auctioned online. Profits from the sale of all toques are being donated to WoodGreen Community Services, which helps refugees and immigrants settle into their new lives in Canada.
Diversity and inclusion is woven into the fabric of our Canadian identity. Strong message. Great campaign! 🍁❤🌍 #Canada#DiversityandInclusion#MAGA#CDNdiversity#Diversity#UnravelHate@peacecollectiv3https://t.co/tT8uRqjXyi— RESHAD (@_r3shad) April 2, 2019
Peace Collective has became popular in recent years for clothing that features slogans such as "Canada is home," and "Toronto vs. Everybody."
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