A young employee at the Bouctouche Co-op Atlantic store is facing consequences after uttering racist remarks to an elder from the Elsipogtog First Nation.
The incident happened on Dec. 23 at the Co-op grocery store in the southeastern village.
Jane Alice Dedam stopped at the village's largest grocery store to pick up some last-minute items for Christmas.
The grandmother doesn't speak French and when she got to the check-out, she said she had trouble understanding what the young cashier was saying to her.
But she said she could tell something was wrong by the reaction of people around her in the store.
"Something about you being a stupid Indian, old stupid Indian or something like that," she recalled of what the cashier said.
She found out about the remarks through her daughter, who says witnesses and others in the community started talking about the incident right away.
After being informed of the incident, the store spoke with other staff who were working at the time and checked security video footage to confirm what happened between Dedam and the cashier.
Romeo Cormier, the manager of public affairs for Co-op Atlantic, said he was informed of the cashier's comments.
Cormier said in other cases, an employee can face sanctions, such as being fired, a negative comment on their employment record.
But Dedam said she doesn't want the young girl fired or punished because of her comments.
After a conversation between Dedam and Cormier, an alternative plan was hatched.
The store is planning a forgiveness circle that would include Dedam and the cashier.
"We are facing a young person whose character is still growing, it would be better to offer her an experience where she can be transformed and become a better person, rather than foster hatred or resentment," Cormier said.
Store managers will meet with the employee that uttered the remark this week to determine whether the forgiveness circle will go ahead.
For Dedam, she said the forgiveness circle would be an opportunity to reach out to the young person and not to isolate them.
"If I could speak to her I would ask her: is there anything I could do to help you?" she said.
Even though she is ready to talk about the issue in a forgiveness circle, Dedam said she’s still not ready to return to the grocery store.
"It'll take a while for me to go back, because if maybe now that it's open it's going to bother me and you know, I'll say, ‘Oh my god, this is where they don't want Indians, dirty old Indian women or something like that," she said.