A Canadian Tire security guard has been charged with assault following an alleged altercation with a customer on May 23, 2023, at the North Albert Street location in Regina.
Ezekial Bigknife, a 24-year-old Indigenous man, said he was in the store shopping for car parts, when he was followed around by employees.
“I noticed a security guard looking at me, and I just gave him a friendly nod… and I noticed two floor walkers following me,” Bigknife explained.
Though he says he was followed by at least five employees, Bigknife said a manager multiple times told the employees he was fine to be there.
After searching for parts, Bigknife and one employee went to his truck to try and find a proper fix for the problem. On his way out to the truck, he says the security guard hurled racial slurs.
He then pulled out his phone to get the security guard on camera. He said that was the moment things started to get physical with three employees, including the security guard.
“The security guard grabbed both my arms and tried to force me to the ground,” he explained. “He punched me in the face and around my head.”
Bigknife said he did not he hit him back.
“I knew if a First Nation guy punched back, I’d get charged with assault. My brother who was there, he didn’t intervene because he knew the same thing.”
However, Bigknife said 10 minutes after he got home, Regina Police arrived at his home to arrest him for assault. He says after police saw Bigknife’s video, combined with security footage from Canadian Tire, they declined to arrest him.
In a statement from Regina Police, they said “as a result of the investigation, a 20-year-old male was charged with assault (and) will make his first appearance in court on this charge on July 10, 2023, at 9:30 a.m.”
A spokesperson for Canadian Tire said they are aware of the altercation, and the security guard involved will not return to the store.
“We take this matter seriously and stores have strict protocols and training programs in place with third-party representatives to ensure clear understandings of expectations on how to conduct business and treat customers with respect.”
Now a few days later, Bigknife is left dealing with the injuries.
He said he has a hairline fracture in his hand, his shoulder is weak and can’t lift anything, and constantly has a headache. He also has a scratch on his neck from when he was choked, a black eye and a busted-up nose.
“I’ve now had to cancel business meetings with clients, because who wants to go to those meetings with a busted-up face.”
In 2017, another Indigenous man, Kamao Cappo, was accused of stealing and pushed against a shelf before being physically removed from a Canadian Tire in Regina. Five years later, he said he is still being watched close in stores because of his background.
“They automatically assume the Indigenous person is there to steal,” Cappo said. “The first thing in their mind is I’m a thief.”
He said he empathizes with Bigknife and the racism he felt.
“It’s too bad they had to go through that grueling, embarrassing experience,” he said.
In a study done by StatsCan, released in 2022, they said the most common experiences of discrimination faced by Indigenous people occurs in stores, restaurants or banks.
In terms of next steps for Bigknife, he said he is looking at pressing further charges against other employees involved in the assault. He hopes to sit down with Canadian Tire to discuss what happened, and how to fix it heading forward.
“At some point the systemic racism has to stop,” Bigknife said.
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