Gary Moostoos, an aboriginal outreach worker in Edmonton, says he was kicked out a mall after being profiled by security workers.
Moostoos, a well-repected elder and cultural support worker at Boyle Street Community Services, told CTV News he was eating in the City Centre Mall food court Monday afternoon when he was approached by security guards who demanded his name.
He was so taken aback that he took out his phone to record the incident.
When he asked the mall patrol why they needed his name, he was told that security had been watching him.
“They said, ‘Well, you look like a person who is suspicious. You are observed as portraying suspicious activity’ or something of that sort,'" Moostoos told CBC Edmonton.
Moostoos told the Edmonton Sun that visits to the mall are part of his work, and he's there almost every day. In an interview with CBC News, he said sometimes that work means meeting with gang members.
That didn't stop the security guards from banning him from the mall for six months.
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson addressed the incident on his Facebook page Wednesday morning.
"I am concerned about the treatment that Gary Moostoos received this week at the City Centre Mall. I think all Edmontonians would be shocked to hear of any alleged discrimination based on appearance and/or association," the mayor begins, while going on to explain why he didn't respond to the events sooner.
"I wanted to ensure I wasn't rushing to judgement before making a public statement."
Iveson says the City of Edmonton has offered to share their reconciliation workplace program with the mall's frontline staff to "enhance their cultural sensitivity."
Oxford Properties Group, who oversees City Centre Mall management, said they will "gracefully" accept Iveson's offer.
“It is clear mistakes were made and we should have acted differently," the group said in a statement.
“We have reached out [Moostoos] numerous times and we are hoping that he will accept our invitation to meet so we can discuss it with him face to face and apologize to him in person."
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