Sobeys boycott ends after company agrees to racial profiling training
A months-long boycott of Sobeys by the African United Baptist Association of Nova Scotia has come to an end after the grocery store chain agreed to train its employees on discrimination and racial profiling.
The decision comes several weeks after the AUBA’s moderator Rev. Lennett Anderson and vice-moderator Rev. Rhonda Britton attended a meeting with Sobeys’ senior management team.
“It was really about how do we rebuild trust, how do we make Sobeys a safe place for the residents of the African Nova Scotia community to feel welcome,” said Anderson in an interview with Global News.
“They really wanted to right the wrong and I appreciated that so much.”
The AUBA launched the boycott this summer, several months after Sobeys appealed a decision made last year by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission independent board of inquiry. The decision had found staff at a Tantallon, N.S. store discriminated against Andrella David in May 2009 after they falsely accused her of repeatedly shoplifting.
The AUBA voted at the end of August to start a boycott of the grocery store chain.
In August, Sobeys said it would apologize to David and withdraw its appeal of the decision, which found racial profiling had been a factor in the confrontation and there was no evidence that showed David had tried to steal anything from the store.
Sobeys also agreed to look at incorporating training on racial profiling and to develop staff training agreed upon with the NSHRC.
An emailed statement from Sobeys spokeswoman Shauna Selig on Monday confirmed they were working on the training program.
She wrote the training would be implemented at all Sobeys locations not only for current employees, but every new hire. She added they were working with Sobeys’ security firms to “ensure security guards receive their training as well.”
Anderson said the boycott continued even after the apology was given in August because it was about more than just getting a cheque or an apology.
“For them to write a little cheque and to say ‘I’m sorry’ to Ms. David and not agree to the training that she was requesting, made the argument very clear for us that we were going to hold on to the boycott,” said Anderson.
He said that Sobeys’ agreement to the training shows they are “being proactive.”
“They’re trying to lead and we need to celebrate their efforts that they are trying to be a leader in the restoration,” said Anderson.
In addition to the training, Selig wrote they have planned an open house at the Tantallon location to take place in the coming weeks.
“It’s time to rebuild and repair the relationship and this open house will give us the opportunity to meet, share a meal together, and welcome the members back to our stores,” wrote Selig.
The plan to hold the open house, Anderson said, “spoke volumes.”
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