Nova Scotia

Dartmouth community shows support after convenience store owner assaulted 

The Dartmouth community brought chocolates, flowers and well wishes to the owners of a local convenient store after one of them was assaulted at work.

Owners overwhelmed after community members brought flowers, chocolates and cards

Silva Safatli stands in front of her store on Friday. (Jane MacDougald)

Jake's Variety in Dartmouth, N.S., has been a staple store for years for many residents.

The owners, Silva Safatli and her husband Kamil Safatli, have been known to regularly give back to the community. They even offered free snacks and coffee to residents right after post-tropical storm Fiona when many people didn't have power in their homes. 

Now, many in the Dartmouth community are showing support to the store owners after Kamil was assaulted behind the cash counter last week at the convenience store on Portland Street. He was taken to the hospital with bruises Sept. 29 and discharged that evening. 

Kamil Safatli suffered bruises on his face and neck. (Silva Safatli)

Halifax Regional Police arrested a 58-year-old man at the scene in the morning. He was charged with assault. 

"It was upsetting. They don't deserve that," said Jane MacDougald, owner of The Dart Gallery beside the convenience store.

"They work like 12 hours a day every day. They take two days off a year. They're just so nice and they really take care of the community and they provide a really, really valuable resource for a lot of people."

MacDougald shared the incident on social media. She said she knew a lot of people in the community would be affected by the incident. 

As soon as the message went out, community members began dropping by the store, bringing flowers and cards. 

Another member of the community also set up an online fundraiser that had brought in nearly $6,000 by Monday morning. 

"I feel like they deserve better, and this is a shame," said Elizabeth Macmichael, a Dartmouth resident who has regularly been visiting the store for six years. She says Jake's Variety is a pillar of the Dartmouth community.

"Like rain or shine, through this hurricane last weekend, they had their generator running," said Macmichael.

"They were open all the way through the pandemic pretty well. They've just been a constant. And they're there for your milk, your bread, your orange juice, whatever. They're just sweethearts, like, they're just always there for us."

Punched and bruised

Silva said a man entered the store when the couple was getting ready to open it. She said he kept punching Kamil, who is over 50 years old, on the back of his head. When she tried to interfere, the man pushed her too. 

"He got bruised everywhere, his ribs got bruised, his hand, his legs," said Silva. "He hit him really hard on the back a couple of times."

A flower and a card from a community member sit in Jake's Variety after the incident. (Silva Safatli)

Silva said Kamil began feeling numb and dizzy and his face looked yellow. "I was stressed all day. I was shaking all day," she said. 

Kamil, who was back to work Monday morning, said the incident left him depressed. He said that it was the first time in 13 years either of them was ever assaulted in their store. 

"He almost hit my wife. She came down to the store to open the store with me. She was defending me. So he starts swearing at her 'get away.' It's scary," said Kamil. 

He said he was giving coffee every day for two months to the man who assaulted him. He said the community has never felt as unsafe as it has in the last year and he worries for his teenage children, who sometimes give him a hand at the store.

He has also been overwhelmed with community support.

"Everybody coming down to the store saying, 'How are you doing?' and, 'I'm sorry to hear that.'" 

Silva said it's not the first time the community has come together to show support. They've also been helpful during the pandemic, supporting their business and setting up a fundraiser page even then. 

"The community is amazing. We love it here. If it wasn't for them, we would have been gone," said Silva.