Former Winnipeg Blue Bomber Milt Stegall is coming to the southern Manitoba town of Morris later this month in an effort to help bring community members together.
The town made headlines last week when Thea Morris said she is closing her Jamaican eatery, Thea's Diner, in part because she was the target of racism.
She told CBC News that business has been drying up because some customers were trying to intimidate her. One of her customers even told her people are avoiding the restaurant because she is black, she added.
Ron D'Errico, a friend of Stegall, says he asked the Canadian Football Hall of Famer to go to Morris in light of the situation there.
"Milt's got a history of dealing with racism [as a] subject, and and he's got a very powerful message … to encourage people to come together," D'Errico said Tuesday.
Stegall will be outside Thea's Diner on Dec. 14 starting at 2 p.m. He'll stay on to sign autographs, D'Errico said.
Some local residents dispute the restaurateur's racism claim, arguing that Thea's Diner is unpopular because the service is slow and prices are high.
Thea Morris becomes the second restaurateur to close up shop in the town of about 1,800 people. Earlier this year, an openly gay couple closed their restaurant there, saying they were tired of hearing homophobic slurs.
"Definitely Milt is not coming here with a stick, and he's not pointing fingers," D'Errico said.
"I think this makes him very sad. I think he's affected by this, and I think it hits … home to him and he wants to be part of it."