Canadian Tire apologizes after Indigenous customer thrown out of Regina store
'If we were white and walked into the store, this would not have happened,' says Indigenous man
An Indigenous man is speaking out after he was accused of theft and thrown out of a Canadian Tire store in Regina where he was trying to buy a chainsaw.
Kamao Cappo, who was involved in the altercation, posted a couple of videos online showing the incident, which occurred Wednesday. Canadian Tire has since apologized.
Cappo, who is of First Nations heritage, said he was in the store to buy a chainsaw, but noticed a problem just before purchasing it and left the product with customer service.
He said he placed a one-litre can of oil and a spare chain he was planning to purchase inside the box in order to make it easier for an employee to carry, which is when a man who also worked there accused Cappo of attempting to steal.
Cappo said he felt humiliated.
"You're being tossed out of a place for doing absolutely nothing wrong and you can't believe that it's happening," he said Thursday.
'I knew this was wrong'
Cappo refused to leave the store and instead recorded the interaction with the employee on his phone, posting two videos to Facebook that show the interaction grow more heated.
"I knew this was wrong. He couldn't come up to me and just order me out of there, and I knew they had done this to a lot of Indigenous people, and I knew if I let him get away with this, that is saying, 'It's fine to do this,'" said Cappo.
At one point, the store employee grabbed Cappo to lead him out.
As the exchange escalated, the employee pushed Cappo up against a shelf. He then pushed him toward the exit, with Cappo sliding on his feet.
"The only way I can fight back is with a video. If I argue, I'm not going to get anywhere. If I try to return the abuse he's giving to me, that'll only put me in jail."
Since the altercation, several people have reposted the video or tagged Canadian Tire in posts online. Many of the comments voice concerns about treatment of First Nations people by businesses.
"If we were white and walked into the store, this would not have happened," wrote Cappo in a post, who later said he's used to getting followed around stores.
CBC News's interview requests were not answered, but we received an email response from Canadian Tire.
"We sincerely apologize for the experience that occurred in our store and we are actively reviewing all of the facts surrounding this matter," it said.
"We are communicating with Mr. Cappo directly, and we hope to resolve this matter as quickly as possible."
As of Thursday evening, Cappo said he had given his phone number to someone who messaged him on behalf of the company, but has not received a call.
People 'shame' profiling
Brandy Maxie said she saw the post online Wednesday, and showed up to the store Thursday in order to "shame" the business.
"I'm shaming them because this is happening way too often and not just with this particular location," she said.
"I'm not a thief in any way shape or form, but I get followed in every single store whether it'd be Walmart, Shoppers Drug Mart or Canadian Tire, and so it's very common that a lot of these businesses assume that every Indigenous person is a thief, and that really feeds into the racism that's a problem here in Regina," she said.
Maxie said anyone who has watched the videos and doesn't believe the altercation has to do with racism is simply wrong.
She said Cappo is a well-respected elder in the community.
Bob Hughes, an advocate and spokesperson for the Saskatchewan Coalition Against Racism, said it's all too common for First Nations people in the city to be followed and confronted by store staff.
"We had the mayor come on a while ago and say that there's never a time for civil disobedience, but if there ever was a time … that seems to me to be the time to say, 'No, I am not leaving, get the police. I'm not leaving the store, they have no reason to kick me out of the store,'" said Hughes.
Cappo has filed a complaint of assault with the Regina Police Service over the altercation.
Police have the video in their possession and are investigating. No charges have been laid.
On Thursday, Regina police were called to the Canadian Tire after someone phoned the store and threatened it with a gun.
A police spokesperson said they are investigating whether or not there is any connection with the alleged assault that took place the day before.