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Regina brewery denies service to protestors who destroyed Every Child Matters memorial at legislature

Pile O’Bones Brewing Company denied service to protestors who had shoveled the Every Child Matters memorial at the Saskatchewan legislature in Regina into a garbage bag. The bar co-owner said in the era of reconciliation, racism is not acceptable in Saskatchewan.

"As a Métis business owner, racism is not acceptable," Pile O’Bones co-owner said

This is what remained of the Every Child Matters memorial after two protestors shoveled it into a garbage bag. The memorial has now been restored. (Jessie Anton/CBC)

A Regina brewery denied service to two anti-vaccine protestors who destroyed the Every Child Matters memorial, which was meant to honour the children who died in residential schools, at the Saskatchewan legislature on Thursday. 

Pile O'Bones Brewing Company took to Facebook to announce their decision.

"Our business is owned in significant part by Métis people. We stand with residential school victims and survivors, including those experiencing intergenerational trauma. Racists are not welcome in our brewery, nor should they be welcome in our community or our province," the post read.

Josh Morrison, the director of the brewery, said he was having a beer with his wife at the bar on Friday afternoon when two protestors the couple had seen in the media destroying the memorial walked in. Morrison said he and his wife instantly decided to not "feed racists" and told them to leave.

"It's a terribly sombre memorial that had been erected, and to see these people scoop this up and treat it like garbage — and they literally said it's garbage, it's litter — it just made my blood boil," Morrison said.

Morrison said the pair refused to leave the bar.

He said he informed the police, but the duo decided to leave within five minutes.

"Before they left, they decided to give me a piece of their mind and used antisemitic references, like we have treated them like the Nazis have treated Jewish people, and much worse language than that," Morrison said.

Josh Morrison is the co-owner of Pile O’Bones Brewing Company

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After dealing with racist customers, Morrison said that reconciliation requires action on all our parts. 0:32

He said the pair threatened him with a war and suggested bringing a thousand people to protest against Pile O'Bones. 

"As we got them outside they continued to shout and scream profanities and racist things, they started making Nazi gestures and Nazi salutes and it was really bizarre," he said.

Morrison said that many customers and other businesses have expressed overwhelming support for the Facebook post. He said that the protestors are known to many people and have staged similar events for the past 18 months. 

He is calling on other businesses to refuse their services to such racist protestors.

"It made me enraged. As a Métis business owner, we have a part to play in reconciliation. I looked up reconciliation in the dictionary and they said it's a noun and I disagree, it's a verb. It requires action on all of our parts," he said.

The brewery is located in NDP MLA Meara Conway's constituency of Regina Elphinstone-Centre. Conway supports the brewery's decision and said she was personally baffled to witness the protestors shovel the memorial into a garbage bag.

She said she was walking down the steps of legislature on Thursday afternoon when she saw the male and female duo, who had organized the anti-vaccine counter protest to another demonstration calling for the government to bring back public health measures.

"I was completely gobsmacked. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I was confused because I didn't understand how this memorial had to do with the COVID-related protest that was being planned," Conway said.

"I was joined by many others who were almost shocked and frozen in place, really unsure of what had just happened."

NDP MLA for Regina Elphinstone-Centre Meara Conway said she was deeply upset to witness the protestors shovel the memorial into a garbage bag. (CBC News)

Conway said that it was upsetting to hear phrases like "cleaning our house" as they shoveled the memorial into a garbage bag. She said she heard the woman say "don't forget the shoes."

Conway said she wanted to intervene, but the man was aggressive and heavily built. 

A Wascana Centre community safety officer intervened and retrieved the items.

"The items that were disrespectfully removed by these protestors are returned to the steps of the Legislative Building to continue the memorial that honoured the recent discovery of unmarked graves," said the Ministry of Government Relations in an email statement.

"Premier Moe strongly condemns these actions, and has noted that these are the same protestors responsible for several idiotic actions over the past several months."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pratyush Dayal is a reporter with CBC Saskatoon. He has previously written for the Globe and Mail, the Vancouver Sun, the Province and the Tyee. He holds a Master of Journalism degree from UBC and can be reached at pratyush.dayal@cbc.ca Twitter: @Pratyush_Dayal_

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