Saskatoon

Couple claims Saskatoon hotel turned them away based on alleged discrimination

A Métis woman and her girlfriend are filing a human rights complaint after they say a Saskatoon hotel turned them away.

Métis woman says she and her girlfriend were told Comfort Inn 'doesn't allow people of your kind'

Dione Graham and Bonnie Fraher say they were discriminated against by a Saskatoon hotel. (Submitted by Bonnie Fraher)

A couple is filing a human rights complaint after they say a Saskatoon hotel turned them away.

Dione Graham and her partner, Bonnie Fraher, went to check in at the Comfort Inn on Wednesday. Graham said after the hotel clerk looked at her licence, the clerk told the couple their reservation was being cancelled because the hotel doesn't rent to people with addresses in the Saskatoon area.

When the couple pressed the issue, the hotel's general manager came out. Graham said the manager told them, "it's hotel policy that we don't allow people of your kind to stay at our hotel."

"I think I was in a state of shock," she said. "When I got out to my car, I started to cry."

Graham, who is Métis, isn't sure whether she was being allegedly discriminated against based on her sexual orientation, her skin colour or both. She didn't stick around long enough to find out.

"I just wanted to get out of there," she said.

Hotel picketed

Bonnie Fraher protested outside Saskatoon's Comfort Inn for nine hours. (Submitted by Bonnie Fraher)
The complaint didn't end there. The next day, Fraher picketed outside the hotel for nine hours. Even though police were called, Fraher was undeterred.

"It was a peaceful protest," she told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning. "Police were so kind. Two police patrol cars showed up and I couldn't have been treated better."

Fraher said she has never experienced discrimination like this before.

Company response

Graham's family contacted Comfort Inn's head office.

Company officials said they are taking this matter seriously.

"We've started an investigation," said regional director of operations Duane Borton. "I am making the drive to Saskatoon to talk to everyone that's involved and trying to get as much information as we can."

That said, an earlier response with an offer of a $125 gift card isn't sitting well with the couple. A letter from the company to the couple referred to them as "friends," something they say isn't proper.

"Their response: It's just a joke," said Graham. "They never called my girlfriend my 'girlfriend.' It was always 'friend.'"

Fraher is planning to file a complaint to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

"This is 2016, and this should not happen," she said. "If we don't stop this now, our children are going to experience this. Our grandchildren are going to experience this."

With files from Victoria Dinh, Saskatoon Morning