(Violent video sparked a protest Thursday night from locals demanding answers from hotel. Submitted photo)
A video posted on Facebook shows a violent confrontation between a homeless Indigenous man and a Whitehorse hotel employee on New Year’s Eve.
And all because the homeless man wasn’t a guest.
“It was during that really cold snap we had…I rolled down my window and yelled, ‘Hey, what the hell are you guys doing?’” said a man who witnessed the commotion at Westmark Whitehorse hotel.
The witness, who spoke to APTN News on condition of anonymity, said the temperature was about -45C with the wind chill.
“It looked like he was trying to throw him out of the building…I was surprised to see that because usually they call the cops.”
The 10-second video was posted this week on social media and appears to show a larger, hotel employee grabbing the Indigenous man by the coat and yank him towards to the front door.
The Indigenous man then appears to throw a punch at the hotel employee who responds with striking the Indigenous man twice before pushing him out the front door. Once outside the scuffle to continues before the video ends.
The witness said the smaller man is from Inuvik: “He might be homeless. I think he’s from Fort McPherson, NWT.”
Kwanlin Dun First Nation Chief Doris Bill couldn’t identify the victim but said she was “disturbed” by the violent confrontation she watched on Facebook.
“The day and age you can push people around without any consequences, well those days are over,” she said.
A lawyer for the hotel’s owner – Holloway Lodging Corp. – said the employee didn’t follow proper procedure but the video didn’t show everything that happened.
“We don’t want our employees to put themselves at risk,” said Jordan Vaeth. “We advise them that what they should do is simply call the police.”
He said the video sparked an internal investigation that is confidential. But he confirmed the employee still works there.
A group with handmade protest signs gathered outside the hotel Thursday night “in response to the video of a First Nations man being forcefully ejected from the hotel.”
A spokesperson for the protest said in an email they want to meet with hotel management to discuss what happened.
“It is our hope to find some answers as to what happened to that man in the video, and to affirm our position that the intolerance demonstrated by assaults of this nature are unacceptable and will not go unaddressed,” the spokesperson told APTN.
Meanwhile, Vaeth said what isn’t seen on the video is that police were called and arrived within minutes.
“The portion that you don’t see they had been allowed into the hotel because they’d asked for admittance, so the front desk person had gone allowed them in, spoke to them inside and then the portion that you see is when they had refused to leave,” said Vaeth.
He said the man was ordered to leave because he was “not a guest.”
RCMP told APTN they were aware of the video but declined to comment.
Vaeth said police told him they couldn’t find the alleged victim.
Bill urged the hotel owner to join with the community in finding a solution to dealing with vulnerable people.
“I understand this is a business. But this is not the way to do things,” she said.
“When it’s close to -40C outside you want to stop into a business or whatever if it gets too cold to warm up.”
On its website, the Westmark Whitehorse describes itself as the Yukon’s largest hotel and conference centre.