RED DEER - “I hate you, Canada, for teaching people to treat me this way.”
An Indigenous actor shared these comments on social media soon after he says he was on the receiving end of a racist tirade at a McDonald’s restaurant in south Red Deer.
Zach Running Coyote, who is from Rosebud, is in Red Deer to perform with the Bard on Bower production.
The alleged incident took place Friday night at the McDonald’s location at 2502 Gaetz Avenue and is described by the 22-year-old in a Facebook video that has been viewed more than 100,000 times.
Running Coyote says he was eating alone when a news story appeared on a TV in the restaurant about the case of Edouard Maurice, the Okotoks area rancher who had charges against him dropped after he'd fired shots at trespassers.
A man walking by the TV, a Caucasian as described by Running Coyote, said, “This is a victory for Canada. If someone comes onto my property now, I’ll f*****g shoot ‘em dead.”
Running Coyote says he shook his head upon hearing the comments, prompting the man to say to him, “What is your f*****g problem? Mind your own f*****g business.”
The man then proceeded to the front counter with his female partner to order food, Running Coyote says, and yelled “That little f*****g know-it-all-Indian better mind his own business.”
This promoted Running Coyote to stand up, walk over to the man and say, “If you are going to call me a f*****g Indian, just say it to my face.”
Running Coyote says the man responded by saying, “You better f*** off.”
From there, Running Coyote says the couple paid for their food and sneered at him while leaving the restaurant. He followed them into the parking lot.
“Hey dude, thanks for your opinion. It means a lot to me. That really helps me in life,” Running Coyote yelled at them.
The man responded, according to Running Coyote, by saying he was sick of his people mooching off tax dollars and living on welfare.
Running Coyote said the encounter ended with the man speeding off while yelling, “You’re a poor a** f*****g squaw.”
When he returned to the restaurant, Running Coyote says he tried to apologize to staff but was asked by a manager to leave for trying to start a fight.
Speaking to rdnewsNOW on Monday, Running Coyote says he would change nothing about his actions during the incident.
“I would’ve done the same. Maybe I would have taped it,” he said. “I would have said the same things. I would have approached him the same way. Still would have shaken my head [at his comments].”
Running Coyote also explained the comment about hating Canada was directed toward the “system,” not Canadians.
“When I say ‘Canada’ I mean a system that wrote and upholds the Indian Act. I mean the system that didn’t allow natives off reserves until the 60s. I mean the system that screws over people every day. I mean the system that allowed this man to say that this news story about shooting people is a victory for Canada.”
Running Coyote says he disagrees with the attitude over the Maurice case, not the end result.
Bob Carpenter, Franchisee for McDonald’s Red Deer, responded to Friday’s incident with an e-mail statement.
“McDonald’s is a place for everyone. As a McDonald’s franchisee, I pride myself on creating and maintaining a diverse and accepting environment for all my guests and employees,” he says. “Discrimination of any kind, including racist taunts, is simply not tolerated in my restaurants.
“Whenever violent, aggressive or threatening situations occur, managers are directed to ask the individuals involved to leave the restaurant. This is how we maintain a safe and secure space for everyone.”
Carpenter says they have reached out to Running Coyote and are using the incident as a learning experience for restaurant staff.
“While the situation is obviously disappointing on many levels, we have spoken with Zach over the weekend and let him know that he is certainly welcome in my restaurants. I am using this situation to re-iterate to all my restaurant managers and crew the importance of maintaining a safe and welcoming environment.”
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