Woman says cab driver told her to pay before ride, cursed her when she refused

An Indigenous woman believes she was discriminated against after a City Cab driver in Yellowknife told her she had to pay for her ride upfront.

Catherine Doctor alleges she endured foul language and discriminatory behaviour at hands of City Cab driver

Catherine Doctor says her cab driver told her to pay up front for a ride, and then cursed her out twice when she refused. (Kayla Rosen/CBC)

An Indigenous woman in Yellowknife believes she was discriminated against after a City Cab driver told her she had to pay for her ride upfront.

Catherine Doctor wanted the cab to take her from downtown Yellowknife to nearby Ndilo, a small community attached to the city of Yellowknife and a short drive from downtown, when the incident occurred last week.

She said when she questioned the driver over the demand for payment up front — not the normal sequence of events for a cab ride in Yellowknife —he warned: "Don't get me angry."

She also said the driver cursed her twice during their conversation: once after she suggested that she take another cab, and again when she asked him why he works in Yellowknife if he "hates" Indigenous people.

Doctor said the incident made her feel like a second-class citizen.

"This cab driver really upset me … I didn't sleep well that night and I didn't know who to call to tell them [about] this incident that happened to me," she told CBC News.

Doctor said the driver didn't directly comment on the fact that she's an Indigenous woman, but said she felt his resentment because of his demeanour and the way he looked at her.

No comment from cab company

According to City of Yellowknife bylaws, cab drivers are prohibited from using "abusive, insulting or profane language." They are also prohibited from refusing "to convey within the city any orderly persons upon request."

After the incident, Doctor spoke with a City Cab manager. She said the manager told her the company has been having issues with people in Ndilo and Dettah — a First Nations community about a 25 kilometre drive from the city —  not paying for their cab rides.

She also said the manager told her the incident would be brought up at a board meeting.

CBC News phoned City Cab and was transferred to a manager. The manager confirmed she spoke to Doctor, but would not provide further comment or address any of Doctor's allegations.

Doctor worries how this cab driver might be treating other passengers.

"If he did that to me and I didn't do anything to provoke him, what does he do to other people, especially elders that do not speak English and don't know where to get help," she said.

Doctor said to avoid issues like this in the future, cab drivers should be trained on treating Indigenous people with respect.