DIGBY, N.S. – Dwight Parker, the owner of a pirate re-enactment group he calls Pirates of Halifax, is looking to further distance himself from another pirate re-enactment group, the Maritime Pirate Alliance.
Parker has raised concerns about messages he says he received after the Alliance’s recent time at the recent Digby Scallop Days festival. Parker wants to ensure his re-enactment group is not being confused with the Alliance group.
The Maritime Pirate Alliance attended Digby’s Scallop Days the weekend of Aug. 10-12 and Parker says he’s heard from people who have alleged that group was carrying an item called a flogger and that they hit women with it. A flogger is described as an item used to whip a person for the purpose of punishment. In ancient times these were often used to hurt women. Now floggers are sometimes used for erotic purposes.
The Tri-County Vanguard contacted the Maritime Pirate Alliance for comment. The group asked the Scallop Days organizers to speak on their behalf. A festival organizer contacted the newspaper but didn’t want their name used, telling the Tri-County Vanguard the festival had received no negative feedback from the weekend.
“At no time did we see this happen,” the organizers’ spokesperson said, referring to the allegation that was made.
Scallop Days organizers said they were taking pictures throughout the weekend and were often with the Maritime Pirate Alliance group and said they did not witness any bad behavior taking place.
“The pirates were hands on, helping the kids, it was great to see,” the spokesperson said. Some activities included Pirates’ Story Time for kids, a Pirates costume contest and a treasure hunt in which lots of interaction between the public and the pirates took place. They also attended other festival events as well. “This is the best turnout and feedback we’ve received from a festival, until this.”
Scallop Days organizers said the device the Maritime Pirate Alliance was carrying was a Cat o’ nine tails. This is a multi-tailed whip used centuries ago for discipline onboard ships. If you search images of floggers and Cat o’ nine tails online, in some images they do look similar.
But following messages he said he received after Scallop Days, Dwight Parker – who contends it was a flogger the group had – doesn’t want the public to be confusing the two groups. He put a public post on his Pirates of Halifax (official) Facebook page, with photos from Scallop Days, to let people know that his group has no affiliation with the Maritime Pirate Alliance and doesn’t use floggers.
“Due to messages I have received regarding these photos I need to immediately clarify that the pirates in the photos are not associated in any way with my pirate re-enactor group Pirates of Halifax. They call themselves the Maritime Pirate Alliance. The Pirates of Halifax respect all genders and are a family-friendly entertainment group. We do not carry or use floggers,” he posted. “As with all pirate re-enactor groups around the world, we find the use of floggers offensive & degrading to women & will never employ their use. Thank you.”
Both groups make a lot of public appearances at festivals and other events. The Pirates of Halifax have been present in Digby County in the past and they also regularly take part in Seafest activities in Yarmouth and were at Upper Clements Park this past weekend.
“We really just want to say that we would never carry floggers,” Parker said. “It’s degrading to women, it’s offensive and pirates should not be carrying them.”
Mary Thibeau of Kingston said she witnessed a man dressed up as a pirate during Scallop Days hitting a woman with what she said looked like a flogger.
“If they’re props that’s fine, but keep it tucked in the belt. Don’t wag it around and hit people with it,” she said.
Thibeau believes re-enactment actors can do their jobs without the use of such devices. She’s a grandmother who was worried after witnessing this because the event is a family-friendly one. “It just isn’t right to me. I was shocked seeing it happen.”
Scallop Days says it is booking the Maritime Pirate Alliance group again for next year’s festival, but they’ve advised the group to keep the device they were carrying at home, so as not to generate complaints, concerns or confusion.
Scallop Days said it had made a Facebook post asking for feedback about the festival and said no complaints were made about the Maritime Pirate Alliance.
The Pirates of Halifax and the Maritime Pirate Alliance are both based out of Halifax. Some members of the two groups used to work together but after a falling out a dispute ended up in Small Claims Court to see who could keep and/or use the name Pirates of Halifax. The adjudicator, in a March 2018 court decision, found neither troupe owned the name outright and dismissed the claims and counterclaims on who could use the name, noting in a 15-page decision that it was “with some regret that this result may not resolve much.”