Warning: This story deals with a sensitive topic that might be a trigger for some people.
A Salmon Arm man remains shaken after allegedly being the target of racist comments at his place of work.
Pizza Hut employee Amrit Toor said he was in the kitchen area dealing with an order when a person, without the required face mask, walked in the front door around 9 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 29. About 30 seconds later, Toor greeted the man standing by the front counter.
Toor said the man responded by saying he was good, and then asked for a face mask. Toor said he didn’t have any extra masks and explained if he wanted to, the man could place an order and wait outside. Toor said the man, using profanity, asked if he was sure there wasn’t an extra mask and that he wasn’t going to order. After suggesting he buy a mask elsewhere, Toor said the man, still using profanity, responded by asking him where his turban was.
According to Toor, things worsened from there.
“At that time I was a little bit scared because of the way he was looking at me,” said Toor, adding the man continued to direct racist comments at him.
“When he’s using the religious words and speaking all those words on my religion, on my traditions, on my culture, I gave him a warning I was going to call the police,” said Toor.
Toor said the man refused to leave the property so, instead of using the phone at the counter, he used his cellphone, standing at a safe distance from the man while contacting the RCMP.
The restaurant’s delivery person arrived then through the front door and the man, Toor explained, began targeting the driver with the same racist comments. Toor said the man gave him a rude hand gesture before getting in the face of the driver, who cautiously backed up into the kitchen.
“I said we don’t want any trouble, just leave this property,” said Toor.
While Toor was on the phone with police the man finally stepped outside. Toor said he was asked by police where the man was heading, and went to the door to look outside. The man spotted him and began to return, at which point Toor closed and locked the door and waited for the police to arrive.
Staff Sgt. Scott West said officers responded after receiving a report of a man “making comments that referenced race.” West said the man, a Kelowna resident, was advised not to return to the business.
In January, Toor will have been a resident of Salmon Arm for three years. Though he’s heard from a friend who had an experience with racism in the community, Toor said this was his first.
“It’s a shame for me, you come here from a different country, and Canada is one of the good countries for the labour standards – that’s why we are here, for a better future. But if you face this kind of racism, it makes you weaker…, it makes you feel like something different,” said Toor, needing to pause as his emotions rose.
Yadvinder Jaswal, the manager of the Salmon Arm Pizza Hut, contacted the Observer after the incident, shocked and upset by the ordeal.
“I am so proud of my community and I’ve never had that kind of experience in my five years of working here,” said Jaswal, who is also proud of his employees and how they handled themselves. “That’s what we tell our employees; you don’t have to be aggressive or anything, just stay back, stay calm. If they are not listening to you, just call 911 for help.”
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