A Candle Lake business is facing a deluge of criticism over allegations of racism, ignorance and profanity toward customers. However the owners of the business, which is located on the intersection of Highways 120 and 265, insist they are not racist and the issue centres on the use of their washroom.
The Boycott Candle Lake Junction Facebook group claims to have grown to over 1,400 members, with people sharing their personal experiences and claims of mistreatment over the years.
The group's administrator, Ina Feitz Ray, recently sent a letter to Premier Scott Moe and his ministers of Liquor and Gaming and Health, demanding immediate action.
The letter reads in part that the Facebook group is a place to share the experiences of innocent potential customers walking in to buy snacks or to use the bathroom facilities “who have been subjected to ignorance, profanity and downright cruelty from the owner.” The letter adds “many Indigenous patrons have been subjected to racial slurs.”
As the business is licensed to sell food, liquor and lottery tickets, the group is calling on those ministries responsible to act, and is also highlighting their allegations that the behavior of the Candle Lake Junction owners is shedding a poor light on other businesses in the area who rely on tourism and travellers.
Business owners respond
Responding to the Facebook criticism and letter Patti Crawford, who owns the business with her husband Wayne, said the issue is all about the use of her washroom facilities.
“Everybody uses this place as a pee stop and they don’t buy nothing,” she told paNOW. “I have a bar and café and video lottery terminals and I can’t be watching those while also watching the bathrooms.”
She said items were stolen in the past and said she was the victim of an assault when she refused a customer access to the washroom.
“People are so ignorant, “she said. “First of all they walk in the door for stuff and then they say ‘Do I have to buy something to go to the bathroom?’ and I say ‘of course.’”
Crawford said they’ve put up signs saying the washrooms are for customers only but that hasn’t helped. She added the business shut off a lane around the shop as some motorists would cut across the intersection at high speeds and endanger guests staying in nearby cabins.
The business’ former gasoline supplier decided to pull their services after an altercation between the owners and a group of Indigenous customers. Crawford acknowledges that occurred, and added "I did make a fool of myself” but insists when they used to sell gas she “never at one time said no to a gas customer who wanted to use the bathroom.”
Crawford insists she’s not racist and said she has Indigenous in-laws.
Reacting to news that the boycott group has now sent a letter to the premier, she laughed.
“Oh, I can’t wait. More publicity is better,” she said.
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