A planned Metrro Vancouver performance by a controversial Alberta comedy group has been cancelled amid widespread backlash over T-shirts they made making light of B.C.’s most infamous serial killer.

Danger Cats faced a firestorm of criticism over the shirts, which depicted Robert “Willy” Pickton grinning and holding a slice of bacon with the caption “Pickton Farms, over 50 flavours of hookery smoked bacon.”

Pickton was convicted of six counts of second-degree murder in 2007 for killing vulnerable women he targeted on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. He is suspected of connection to at least 49 murders, many of them sex workers, and Crown stayed charges in another 20 killings after his conviction.

Click to play video: 'Families of Pickton victims protest day parole eligibility'

Families of Pickton victims protest day parole eligibility

Danger Cats had been scheduled to perform at New Westminster’s House of Comedy in March, but the event has since been scrapped.

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In an Instagram post, the group said they had pulled the show along with dates in Edmonton and Ottawa, alleging they and the venues had been subjected to death threats.

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“The three of us can weather the storm but when it comes to our friends the industry, it’s not worth the risk to their livelihoods. It wasn’t their joke, it shouldn’t be their problem,” the group wrote.

The post also states the Pickton shirt had been removed from their website with “all proceeds going to Ukraine,” however a subsequent comment by one of the group’s members implies that is a joke.

The update followed a Monday Instagram post in which Danger Cats defended the joke.

“No comedian’s agenda is to ‘dehumanize’ a people or make the world worse. We make rooms full of people laugh and arguably make it better,” the post reads.

“I don’t like seeing people in tears on the news about us and I’m sorry it hit you like that but apologizing for the joke or cancelling the shows isn’t going to change their opinion of us.

“Dark material should be delivered in a way where it’s more funny than it is shocking but oftentimes that’s a very tough equation to pull off, but we still gotta try.”

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Click to play video: 'Legal battle fought over evidence from Robert Pickton trial'

Legal battle fought over evidence from Robert Pickton trial

The controversy broke days Pickton became eligible to apply for day parole, prompting family and friends to gather for a vigil at the former site of his Port Coquitlam farm.

On Tuesday, B.C.’s First Nations Leadership Council called on the comedy trio to apologize to Pickton’s victims, who it said were “deeply re-traumatized by their actions.”

“Already faced with the memories of the devastating deaths of their loved ones, the families of the victims should not have to suffer such an appalling attempt at humour,” BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Terry Teegee wrote in a statement.

“The members of this so-called comedy group may try to defend this display of poor taste as social commentary and comedy, but the despicable crimes of Robert Pickton and his victims are not something to be made fun of.”

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The comedy troupe is on a cross-country tour and two of its shows had already been cancelled. Venues in Winnipeg and Thunder Bay have decided not to host the Danger Cats over backlash of the group’s jokes about residential schools and unmarked graves.

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