Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut November 16, 2011 - 3:37 pm

Complaints prompt Rankin Inlet’s Northern to stop selling Ouija boards

"They're not toys"

JANE GEORGE
Glow-in-the-dark Ouija boards are sold as
Glow-in-the-dark Ouija boards are sold as "mysterious, mystifying" games.

When Lucy Weibe of Rankin Inlet went to the toy department in her community’s Northern store on Nov. 14, she was looking for a puzzle to buy as a gift for her friend.

But Weibe says what she saw on the shelf horrified her: a glow-in-the-dark Ouija board.

Weibe said the use of Ouija boards have been linked in Rankin Inlet to teen suicides.

“They’re no good. People may think they’re for fun games, but they’re for real,” Weibe said.

A Ouija board has a flat surface printed with letters, numbers, and other symbols, including the sun and the moon.

A movable, heart-shaped indicator serves as a pointer, which two players use to spell out messages or answer questions.

Usually a Ouija board has two rows of letters and numbers.

On the upper left of the Ouija board you can see the word “Yes,” and at the upper right, the word “No.” Close to the bottom of the ouija board you see the word “Goodbye.”

Today’s Oujia boards, made by the toy manufacturer Hasbro, have been on the market since the late 1800s.

But the use of boards and what’s called automatic writing to contact spirits has been around for thousands of years — in China, ancient India, Greece, Rome and medieval Europe.

While many consider the Ouija board as a harmless parlor game, some religions associate the Ouija board with demonic possession.

And others maintain supernatural forces are responsible for the movement of its pointer across the board.

Weibe believes the pointer “comes alive.”

“They’re not toys,” said Weibe, who, along with others in her community, believes the boards can unleash “evil spirits.”

Weibe and others in Rankin Inlet say some teens have asked Oujia boards whether they should kill themselves.

Ouija boards, she said, are linked to satanism.

After seeing the Ouija boards for sale in the Northern, Weibe went on the community radio to complain. Other callers joined in.

A hamlet official then relayed the growing concern about the Ouija boards for sale to the local store manager.

The games were immediately removed — “within 30 seconds,” said Connie Tamoto, manager of corporate communications for the North West Co. in Winnipeg.

Tamoto called Weibe’s concerns “legitimate,” adding that the North West Co. takes all community and cultural concerns seriously.

It’s the first year that Northern stores have carried the glow-in-the-dark Ouija boards, although the boards have been sent before to stores in Nunavut as part of its regular selection of toys.

“To our knowledge, there haven’t been any other complaints in the past,” Tamoto said.

Ouija boards have come under fire before.

In 2001, Ouija boards were burned in New Mexico by fundamentalist groups, along with Harry Potter books, as “symbols of witchcraft.”

As for Weibe, she plans to make sure the Ouija boards are gone from the Northern store in Rankin Inlet.

And she said she’d like to see them removed from every store in Nunavut.

This is what the board of a glow-in-the-dark Ouija board looks like.
This is what the board of a glow-in-the-dark Ouija board looks like.
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