It was the last thing Nick Driedger was expecting when going to order his breakfast egg sandwich from the Cardston A&W Friday morning.
He noticed a disagreement at the counter where an Indigenous couple was trying to order food for an elderly Indigenous woman with a walker.
“They couldn’t feed her because it was a matter of store policy. It was related to their loitering policy. So they could not buy this third person food,” Driedger said.
Dreidger ran after the older woman and asked her if he could buy her something. She told him she just wanted a meal. So he went back inside to complete his order.
But once he received his sandwiches — without any issues — he noticed the cashier picking up the phone and calling police.
Dreidger said he was furious and told the cashier police didn’t need to be called because the woman had left the restaurant.
He grabbed the order and walked across the street to deliver it to the woman.
“At that point I was informed by two other people this wasn’t the first time there had been an issue with something that looked pretty racist at this store, and that there were a lot of people who have had complaints about it,” he said.
In an email to Global News, the company agreed it could’ve handled the situation better. The statement went on to say A&W will be examining its staff training program.
The woman was banned from that location based on previous encounters. The reaction from their staff has resulted in a lot of discussion online asking for the company to make changes.
The Niitsitapi Peace Camp is a group in Cardston trying to work on relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. It said these incidents happen regularly in town to the point where most are unreported because it has become normal to Blackfoot people.
Driedger believes A&W should take a page out of Starbucks’ book and train their staff on dealing with people from all walks of life.
“She wasn’t doing anything wrong. She wasn’t disruptive. She wasn’t creating a scene and I do think that there is a question about basic treatment of people with human dignity,” he said.
Cardston is about 80 kilometres southwest of Lethbridge.