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Indigenous man accuses North Battleford pool staff of racism

An Indigenous man says he and his family were traumatized after an alleged racist incident at a swimming pool in North Battleford.

NORTH BATTLEFORD – A man and his small children were told to leave the Battlefords Aquatic Centre Tuesday by employees and he is alleging racial discrimination.

The man, whom we aren’t identifying to protect his children, said the experience was so traumatic for his children that they will never use the facility again.

“Me and my family decided not to even go back to the aquatic centre,” he told SASKTODAY.ca. “That was such a bad experience for my family especially our two little ones that had to go through that.”

He said that he has taken his daughter to the pool since she was one years old.

“It’s where I taught my daughter to swim. We met so many good people there and of course there always has to be a bad apple.”

The experience has left his daughter bewildered.

“My daughter was just so confused because it’s never happened before to us. Her and my little nephew were sad that we were asked to leave. The [staff] was so unprofessional the way she handled the situation and she laughed at me when I told her I was a First Nation leader that’s not going to stand for that kind of treatment.”

The man, who SASKTODAY.ca has verified is a band councillor from a nearby First Nation, had posted on social media expressing his outrage after the alleged incident.

He said that he, along with his daughter and nephew, were swimming on the public side of the pool when a “white woman” told him and his child “ignorantly” that they “couldn’t swim there.”

He posted on social media that he informed her they had paid to swim at the pool and were on the public side of the pool. He said she then called him a "jerk" in front of his family, got her supervisor, grabbed the board for "lane swimming only" and told them to "get out of the pool." 

He said he told his family to just leave and "let that white lady have the pool to herself." He said when they were getting ready to go and talk to the man working at the register to ask for the manager's phone number, the "supervisor" came out and started "barking at me like an immature kid." He told her he didn't want to talk to her and wanted the manager's phone number. That's when she threatened to call the police if he didn't leave, he said.

The City of North Battleford confirmed that they are “investigating an incident that occurred at one of its recreational facilities.”

In an email to SASKTODAY.ca, the city stated that “a patron was found to be in violation of the facility’s safety policies by staff members” and following this determination, pool staff members were “allegedly verbally harassed and degraded” by the patron.

“The City of North Battleford promotes a respectful and courteous environment for patrons and staff, where every person is treated fairly and respectfully,” stated the email from the city. “Due to the nature of this incident and in accordance with the City department’s standard operating procedures, the incident was reported to Battlefords RCMP for assistance.”

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ljoy@glaciermedia.ca

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