Alberta man says A and W restaurant called police after he bought elder breakfast - APTN NewsAPTN News

Alberta man says A and W restaurant called police after he bought elder breakfast

Holly Moore
APTN  News
A man at an A and W restaurant in Cardston, Alta., says an employee called the RCMP after he bought breakfast for an Elder.

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.

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.

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49 Responses to “Alberta man says A and W restaurant called police after he bought elder breakfast”

    Al Budarin August 13, 2018 at 12:48 pm #

    This is beyond any kind of understanding for me,,,,, When I go into a A &W & order
    TAKE OUT,,,,,,, what the staff actually watches as to what I do with it??? Does it matter if it’s for me or if I’m ordering TAKEOUT for some one else !?!?!??
    This is absolutely insane what A & W did to this person.

    Child of Immigrants August 12, 2018 at 10:57 pm #

    Well said!!!
    When I was growing up, I was taught that Canada is a melting pot, now we consider Canada to be a cultural mosaic. The lady was hungry, no disrespect to the elder, as I see her as a lady and it shouldn’t matter what her background is – rank, colour of her skin, gender, religion etc. Let’s show more compassion and consideration to others. Put yourself in other people’s position before judging.

    Larry Pearson August 12, 2018 at 7:23 pm #

    How can anyone with any kind of heart refuse to let someone eat? Yeah sure you’ll probably say “I’ve been hungry before.” Not he same. I’m talking being so hungry you don’t remember when you last ate. Not knowing when your next meal is coming. That’s hungry. Picture this….YOU are the person sitting there begging for food. FOOD! NOT DRINK! Even if you had a tidbit to chew on it would help. People walk past you and sneer at you or the nice ones will apologize. Some people just don’t have change. You have a mind and it works just fine. You think a lot, after all what else can you do. Depending on the strength of you mind you think at dizzying levels. You might sit and pray and remain calm or….your mind might start to get a little bit bitter. You start to hate your fellow man for being so cold and insensitive. I probably would. People don’t know why you are the way you are. It isn’t always by choice. $5. is all it could take to turn a person’s life around and, if you’ve got a few minutes, a bit of conversation. The changes in people have been phenomenal over a few simple gestures. Sometimes it has happened that the person is an old acquaintance and you might be their white knight. Don’t do it because you feel you deserve a medal or an honour, do it because you are a caring, human being and can walk away feeling good about something you did for someone. It doesn’t hurt, really.

    Scott/Sask August 12, 2018 at 12:21 pm #

    No way of knowing it was about the woman’s race so let’s not assume so. The employee made no indication it was, according to the story but that it was about loitering. That said completely unacceptable to deny someone food who asks for it. I hope that woman will be well taken care of by people from that community after hearing what happened to her. Something more than just posting an opinion
    Go help her if you really care

    Scott Preston August 12, 2018 at 12:01 pm #

    This might be just a single store issue due to the location or the employee going to far,but the real issue is what A&W head quarters is going to do about this.As a company image can be destroyed with the response, that does not favor the public.Scott

    Shannondontas August 12, 2018 at 11:11 am #

    Really you had to call the RCMP. I hope your nevery hungry. It was food not money not alcohol and not drugs. It was food. A&W will be off my list of grabbing dinner on the way home. Unfortunately all will suffer for one.

    j carter August 12, 2018 at 10:11 am #

    I once bought two burgers for a girl and her brother at an aw in Winnipeg, they were maybe 9 and 6 ? they were obviously hungry, dirty , and should not have been alone. But the reality is that they were there alone, To be honest I would do it again. Now aw has a call police policy for starving youth and elders? While they are happily charging two dollars for a six ounce coke? Its all going to hell.

    Kay August 12, 2018 at 6:05 am #

    This is a regular occurrence in some businesses in Cardston…mind you not all are guilty. There are more decent non-native people in Cardston than there is bad. It’s the bad apples who make a bad name with their racist attitudes & ignorant behaviors. It must be remembered that if it were not for native people’s business in town, most businesses in Cardston would be forced to shut down. A & W should totally be ashamed in this day and age to allow this to happen. How embarrassing for Cardston, Alberta.

    joe August 12, 2018 at 5:27 am #

    this is so wrong and could have completely been avoided, sensitivity training and some workshops for their employees, not a good positive step towards reconcialiation, humiliation on his part so unnessessary when he was just showing care for the elder, being a part of a special grassroots group here in Regina, making peace vigil, I hope the elder and everyone included something positive in the end comes out of this so unessessary incident,

    Maryanne Roy August 12, 2018 at 5:10 am #

    I’d have told them u have got to be kidding. Tell when did it become a crime to purchase a meal for a stranger. Last I checked I have the right to spend MY MONEY THE WAY I CHOOSE. Oh an also aside from the sandwich I bought 4 that nice old lady I want my money back for u can take your dam food an shove it up your a $$. Oh an fyi u just lost a customer

    Larry August 12, 2018 at 3:44 am #

    Could we all please take a step back and look at things from a perspective of being decent people? ? Help to feed the hungry. Give a hand up. Be kind. Be good. Be tolerant. Be compassionate. Stop feeding into Trump-ism. …because I think we can agree that this is where it comes from….those who look different are less. Not true. We are all the same. People. Different colours. Different religions. Different beliefs. But in the end, all the same. Human. Be human. Be humane. .

    Robin August 12, 2018 at 2:31 am #

    I agree with Kirsty’s comment based on what I read in the article. They probably called the police when she begged customers to buy her a meal. It was very nice of the man to buy her something to eat.

    TL August 12, 2018 at 2:26 am #

    Great to see so many people condemn the racist incident. The next step is to get all these restaurants to train their staff and walk the talk to create practices that honour the First Nations people in their communities. And A and W to offer this elder a free meal when she comes in.

    ColeJay August 12, 2018 at 2:16 am #

    The RCMP put gps in their vehicles. It’s weird that anyone would deny attending the restaurant, but have them check the gps on that truck, then we’ll know.

    Chris Hotte August 12, 2018 at 2:10 am #

    I have always held the shame of being Canadian – in how this land was simply taken from the people who were here before us. I was born into this, but I refuse to minimize my role in it.

    We crushed and continue to crush their culture and beliefs. We are nothing more than conquerors. Not only should racism be a thing of the long past, we should own this shame, acknowledge it and start the healing.

    Teach your children the truth.

    Kate August 12, 2018 at 1:54 am #

    The racism in Cardston got so bad in the past that all Indigenous people, bands and allies boycotted every service and business there. After a few weeks, the people in the town lost so much money that apologies were issued and things got a little better. Never too late to “out” and boycott again. A & W Head Office – take note – you have been my go to place but I will not be purchasing anything from ANY A & W franchise until this is publicly addressed and dealt with in a good way.

    Tana Macnab August 11, 2018 at 11:49 pm #

    Really – would it have hurt A&W to give the woman a sandwich? It would have gone a long way in showing empathy, compassion and community engagement. All things that are sadly missing in our world. Shouldn’t we all take the reins to be leaders in making our world a more humane place?

    Angela August 11, 2018 at 10:50 pm #

    I’m glad this person brought it out in the open. Racism has been a huge issue for First Nation people but has always been brushed aside.

    I am surprised there are people out there they say racism doesn’t exist…. Really sad and disappointing.

    Its always exhausting to see stories since as this. Hate was not born, it’s was taught at home and can be prevented.

    Kerry August 11, 2018 at 9:02 pm #

    I have gone to this a&w before and i dont think i will be going back…

      joseph August 11, 2018 at 10:13 pm #

      Come on Alberta we are not like that. Were supposed to be loving and kind. that who we are. Gees

      Ernie Sandy August 11, 2018 at 11:55 pm #

      Hi Kerry: I don’t blame you or anyone else boycotting that A & W restaurant, but it is sad to note that racism is alive and well in Canada even in 2018. Canada is a country that is in collective denial of racism. This is non Indigenous problem, but a white problem. Us Indigenous people face it all the time. Take for instance, I was in a walk-in-clinic the other night. Patients are served according the the number that they pick from the dispenser. Anyways, to make a long story story, my number was 145 and the white woman’s number after me was 146. Guess who got called up first? The white lady behind the counter called “No 146”. I got out my chair right away and walked to counter and asked the woman, “What number comes before 146?” She answered “!45”. See this number, what does it say? For all the other dozen or so patients to hear, I said, “You’re nothing but a racist old lady, and I am going in first.” There some hope in anti-racism, even the lady with 146 agreed with me by saying, “This gentleman was before me.” My message is DON’T TAKE ANY SHIT….STAND UP AND SAY WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY.

      Shannondontas August 12, 2018 at 11:08 am #

      I agree with you thats just cruel and mean no should go hungry. Bon Voyage A&W. I wont be returning.

      Susan August 12, 2018 at 2:33 pm #

      So sad this little lady obviously needs some assistance in her life. I don’t care what colour she is. We need to protest some more

      Zoot August 12, 2018 at 7:03 pm #

      Sure… until next time you’re hungry.

      Damon August 12, 2018 at 10:55 pm #


    Marti Wood August 11, 2018 at 8:57 pm #

    SHAME on you A&W….FIRE this treacherous, racist person.

    Edith Oakley August 11, 2018 at 8:42 pm #

    Canada isn’t the only place. They do that stupidity here in the States too. How is it illegal to buy someone a meal? To feed the poor? Restaurants and employees should be ashamed. There are even while towns that bans feeding homeless. I mean come on. Is this how society should act towards others? I think not

      Zoot August 12, 2018 at 7:07 pm #

      There is a sign in the restaurant that forbids loitering, and this woman had been repeatedly asked to leave. Don’t worry, we’ll send all the hungry homeless people over to your house because we know you’ll feed and shelter them.

    Roe August 11, 2018 at 8:34 pm #

    Well that’s the last time I eat at A&W. Dam shame as the burgers are great. But this is intolerable, good on you for getting this the attention it deserves.

      Rita August 12, 2018 at 2:49 am #

      Wow .. you just lost a customer also same with with my friends and family. We spend millions on foreign aid each year and we can even be kind to Canada senior who is hungry . Thank you to kind man that helped out. Injustice shame on you A& W restaurant.

    Kathryn Ens August 11, 2018 at 7:44 pm #

    Your employee who called the cops on a Indigenous elder with a walker just cost you a customer. I must say I will miss your teen burgers. No more A&W for me. I am pissed off. You need to conduct sensitivity training with all your employees across this country.

    JL Ocol August 11, 2018 at 7:36 pm #

    Straight out BS…We are all humans…EVERYONE deserves respect…

      Zoot August 12, 2018 at 7:09 pm #

      Yes, and the restaurant deserves to have its policy against loitering respected, too.

    Devin August 11, 2018 at 7:21 pm #

    I recently witnessed winnipeg police stop to discriminately harass a fellow neechi. There was somebody with open liquor not 10 meters away from them. In plain sight too. But they rather spend “taxpayers” money to do so. We definitely get what we pay for.

    Age August 11, 2018 at 6:52 pm #

    Is it a crime to eat in this country I would even buy a white person a meal if he was hungry sitting outside I did it before what’s this country coming too ??? Wake up A&W

    Ed August 11, 2018 at 6:42 pm #

    Shame on them
    A&W a well known name should be teaching their employees on better services to all people

    deanna August 11, 2018 at 6:41 pm #

    Racism is a big issue in this town, and it is becoming worse and more visible. Its hard for some of the first nations people to go shopping in the other towns due to lack of transportation.

    Ericka August 11, 2018 at 6:27 pm #

    Showing kindness to one another, would make this world a better place! ☺❤

    Patricia August 11, 2018 at 6:26 pm #

    That is so disgusting. I wonder if they would have done it to a white Mormon.

    Witoszkin August 11, 2018 at 6:11 pm #

    In the 1960s when I was growing up in Brantford Ont. I saw many instances of this kind of racism. The Six Nations reserve was south of town and even though the population was not very wealthy, we got along very well with dignity and respect. I went to Pauline Johnson CVS where many of my friends were of Mohawk descent. To see this racist bullshit raise its ugly head in Cardston is terrible. My father was an immigrant and our neighbourhood was a veritable mini UN. We had Italians, French Canadians, Mohawks, Scots, Caribes, Irish, English, Bulgarians, Chinese in our little 2 block area. To see in 2018 that people still can’t comprehend that we are a mix of peoples that NEED to get along if our country is to survive and not mimic the foolishness of our southern neighbours and their demented furher.

      age a August 13, 2018 at 2:08 am #

      Racism will be with humans until the day they realize that it is borders, governments, religions and greed that separate and label the human race…

    Greg August 11, 2018 at 5:57 pm #

    I live in Reno, NV. I visited the AW here. My wife is Filipino, Hawaiian. I felt the racist treatment here as well, and I even emailed the owner but I got no response.

    Kirsty August 11, 2018 at 5:40 pm #

    As sad as it is, she was not refused service for being indigenous … the story seems to indicate she was begging. The guy did right buy providing her a sandwich but my guess is they have a lot of problems with people loitering and begging in the restaurant. I doubt staff would call for a one time incident on an elderly woman.

    Sad times though.

      Ivan August 11, 2018 at 9:57 pm #

      I agree. I’m of First Nations decent and I’m sad to see so many knee jerk reactions and see how they miss the point. However there are so many hurt people who have not dealt with their situations that lead to these immediate, unthinking emotional reactions. Koodoos to the person helping the elderly, I get the feeling that this person would help out regardless of race….

      Sterling August 12, 2018 at 12:57 pm #

      I totally agree with you Kirsty, there is no indication in this story of racism. This lady was soliciting people for food and it doesn’t sound like the first time. I don’t know any restaurant that would put up with that from any race. My question would be how come an elder has to be out begging for food? Where are the people that should be making sure their elders are looked after? There is certainly a lot of racism in this world. This is not an example of it.

      Zoot August 12, 2018 at 7:19 pm #

      Yours is about the only reasonably intelligent comment on here. The rest are over-reacting, triggered SJWs. A&W Restaurant is not a white supremacist organization.

    Donna Brass August 11, 2018 at 5:12 pm #

    We have to stand up for basic human rights! We have to stand together as Indigenous and individuals of all races. Boycotting A&W in Cardston would be a start!

      Zoot August 12, 2018 at 7:24 pm #

      Listen to you, courageous SJW championing the cause of poor, downtrodden people everywhere. A veritable legend in your own mind. The woman was loitering in a restaurant with a posted policy against loitering. Put an ice pack on your head and cool down.

    Tracy August 11, 2018 at 5:07 pm #

    The A&W in Merritt BC does not treat the local Natives like that. We are treated like all other patrons. With respect. Thank you Merritt A&W!