The Innu Nation wants its members to boycott a hotel in central Labrador, over an incident that the hotel owner says was a misunderstanding.
Joseph Mark and John Abraham, who live in Sheshatshiu, say they were shocked when a co-owner of the Hamilton Hotel in nearby Happy Valley-Goose Bay asked them to leave the premises earlier this month.
Mark and Abraham were waiting outside the hotel for it open, so they could attend an SNC Lavalin training program about the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project.
"I saw this car but I didn't know who the manager was. [She] got out of the car and walked towards us and [said], 'You're not supposed to be here in the outside of the hotel," Abraham said.
The men told the manager they had come for a training program and she said that she would look into it. They were left waiting outside.
Another man, Edmund Benuen, was also asked to leave when he entered the hotel and went looking for the training session.
"When I was standing on the stairs… the lady came at the stairs [and] told me that you guys [are] not allowed to hang around here in the lobby,' " Benuen said. "It's not supposed to happen like that."
Abraham said he was left shaken by the incident.
"I feel terrible and talked to my friend about that, and we talked to each other, and I told him that [it] must be racism," he said. "That's what he thinks, too."
Innu Nation president Daniel Ashini said the incident is being reviewed by a lawyer. In the meantime, he is asking members not to patronize the business.
"We would certainly support a ban," said Ashini. "We'd encourage our people not to spend any money in that hotel."
Bonnie Noseworthy, who recently took over the Hamilton Hotel with her husband, said she is sorry about what happened. She said the hotel has had problems with people loitering around the hotel premises while intoxicated.
She said some homeless people sleep in woods near the hotel, and she has often arrived at the hotel to find people passed out in the parking lot. On two occasions in the last month, she said, she has had to deal with men urinating in public.
Noseworthy turned down a request for a taped interview, and became emotional while speaking with a CBC News reporter.
She said she is not racist, andhas issued an apology expressing regret "to any individuals if any action of this hotel has offended them."
SNC Lavalin, meanwhile, pulled its training program from the Hamilton Hotel and held it in another location. Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, which is developing the Lower Churchill megaproject, is not commenting on the incident, which is now the subject of an internal investigation.