Nick Driedger said he bought a sandwich for the woman after she asked a couple ahead of him in line for a meal. That’s when the counter person called the police.
Driedger said the couple in front of him in line were First Nations and the restaurant refused to sell them a meal for the woman so he stepped in.
“She just wanted a meal,” he told APTN News. “It was clearly racist. They sold it to me, a white guy.”
The counter person told Driedger it was store policy to not buy meals for people because of loitering concerns.
He added that the woman left the store after being refused.
Driedger added a sandwich to his order for the woman, whose name he didn’t know. He then overheard the employee call police.
“I was furious,” he said. “I think it’s a basic human right to eat.”
Driedger said police responded to the call, stayed briefly and left.
“They just kind of shook their heads,” he said. Police did not interview him.
The incident happened around 9 a.m. Friday morning in Cardston, about 235 km south of Calgary.
He was visiting from Athabasca Alta. for a gathering.
He said he is used to seeing racism in small-town Alberta. He said he shared the same story on his Facebook account and is uncomfortable with all the attention it has received.
“For me to get all this attention for something that Indigenous people face every day it isn’t right.” He said. “It says a lot about our social norms.”
He said he has spoken to A and W public relations and they are “taking the incident seriously.”
“They also said she had been in before and was “menacing,” he said. “This is a little lady, maybe 100 pounds with a walker. She couldn’t be menacing to anyone”
He felt compelled to take to social media because of how Indigenous people are subjected to racism across Canada.
“You have to stand up sometimes.” He said.
APTN News has contacted A and W Canada for a response but had not heard back.
A and W did respond to Driedger’s brother in law on Twitter.
Hey @AWCanada– do all your restaurants have a policy of refusing to serve elderly indigenous people and then calling the cops on folks who tries to help them? Or is that just a special policy at your Cardston location.
— Stuart Somerville (@Stuthefarmer) August 10, 2018
RCMP Alberta spokesperson S/Sgt Jeremie Landry told APTN the Cardston detachment denied their members attended the A and W yesterday. No complaint came through dispatch or directly to the office according to Landry.
APTN also reached the Blood Tribe Police and the Cardston Municipal By-Law Enforcement Officer. Both denied responding to a call.
But Driedger and another witness said they are certain they saw two officers in their mid-20s in a white RCMP truck at the restaurant.
Landry confirmed the detachment has a white truck but said the two officers assigned to it say they didn’t respond.
Allegations of racism aren’t new to the community of Cardston.
In 2017, the Blood Tribe complained that a local theatre group was photographed in Indigenous regalia.