Thunder Bay – “It is always like this?” That was the question I had to ask. A friend and I were out on the weekend to do a little dancing. The club that we went to was pretty full on Saturday night. We sat down, ordered some beverages, and started listening to the music. At the table beside us were two Aboriginal couples, they were doing the same thing. Chilling and relaxing.
What was different however what that the couples beside us, were told, about 45 minutes before us, that it was “Last Call”. Just after this news was shared with them, I went up to the bar and had no problem ordering. About ten minutes later, I went back and ordered again, all without being told it was last call.
My friend and I got up to enjoy a dance, when we sat down, the people at the next table were gone. They hadn’t left, they were up at the bar being told “Its time for you to go”. Watching that, I wanted to leave too. We did.
The couples who had been sitting with us were followed out by staff, and told “If there are any problems, we will call the police”.
At no time that I saw, were either couple causing any problem. It is possible that there was some issue that I didn’t see, but it sure seemed doubtful to me that they were causing any problems. The only difference from this couple and others in the bar that I could see was that they were Aboriginal.
It is an issue that should concern all of us here in Thunder Bay. The kinds of actions that staff at this business demonstrated are shared widely within the social networks, discussions, and in family circles.
It can go so far as a teenager trying to get her volunteer hours as a part of her high school requirements. A mother relayed to me how she was with her daughter at a local church. The person at the church was insisting on a criminal background check as a part of the requirements to volunteer. Yet a white student came in, as the mom and daughter were leaving. That student was doing the same thing, asking how she could get involved as a volunteer – she was welcomed with open arms.
If a church is demonstrating this kind of behaviour, then it is easier to understand how a bar could act.
It can go so far as an Aboriginal woman being escorted out of the OLG Casino. Staff told the woman that she had to leave because she was intoxicated. The lady in this case has been sober for ten years. Her excitement at a friend winning at the blackjack table generated the reaction from the staff at the OLG.
Guess it isn’t alright to be excited at the Casino?
One might expect, in our modern city that such behavior would be unlikely to happen.
However it is.
It is happening across our city, and in far too many cases, it is seeming viewed as acceptable.
There can be all the high-powered committees formed by City Council to combat racism, but if nothing is happening to solve problems, then we have to be asking ourselves why not?
Those kinds of actions are sending a message across our region, and beyond that racisim is alive in well in our city. It is not sending the kind of message that our community should be sending.
Sadly, however in growing numbers of cases, it is becoming Thunder Bay’s reputation. We all need to ask ourselves why we would tolerate such behaviour. I won’t. Will you?
UPDATE: Dealing with issues – The incident at the OLG was brought to the attention of management at the OLG Casino. The situation has now been dealt with effectively.