Chai Sullivan (speaking) and Daruna Nikii (background, holding paper) were victims of a racially motivated incident at Cornerstone Taphouse on Wednesday, June 3. This photo was taken at the Friday Black Lives Matter event at Simms Park, where Nikii spoke about the incident. Photo by Mike Chouinard.

Racist comments hurled at two women in Vancouver Island restaurant

Police called in, man arrested

Two young women who were in the midst of organizing a Black Lives Matter protest Friday at Simms Park in Courtenay were subject to a racial slur two nights before the event.

READ: Black Lives Matter events attract strong turnout in Comox Valley

Daruna Nikii and Chai Sullivan were dining at the Cornerstone Taphouse Wednesday, June 3 in downtown Courtenay when a man entered the premises. A message on Cornerstone’s Facebook page says the man was verbally abusive to both staff and customers.

“Someone yelled [N…..] at me,” Nikii says in a Facebook post. “Which shows that racism is still around and it’s really sad. I have no words to express how disgusted I was to hear this man call me that for no reason at all, especially with all of what’s happening in the world. People at the restaurant barely did anything until the cops showed up.”

A restaurant patron, whom the women did not know, allegedly approached the man and tried to converse with him, but the abusive man left the premises.

Cornerstone staff called the Comox Valley RCMP shortly before 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.

“A 37-year old man was arrested by police for mischief, causing a disturbance, and breach of probation,” Const. Monika Terragni said in a statement.

Tim Monier, a friend of the two women, came to the taphouse around the time police arrived. From what Monier understands, before the man left the building, he said to Nikii, ‘You need to be taught a lesson.’

“It was just insanity,” Monier said. “The reaction from the people in the restaurant would have been more upsetting almost than the person who actually called her the n word himself.”

Sullivan said the man became inebriated at the taphouse, and was attacking waitresses and patrons with abusive language.

“He went to the door, yelled a bunch of things, and ended by looking at Daruna and calling her the n word. Then another black man (who she didn’t know) who was there followed him outside and went to speak to him…The guy stumbled over. No one hit this guy…Daruna and I also ran after him…Daruna poured a glass of water on him, and said, ‘Don’t call me that.’

“I have to say, it was pretty calm considering the situation. No one was yelling…This guy actually wasn’t fighting back at this point, he was listening.”

Sullivan said four people at the taphouse reacted poorly.

“People were quick to defend him calling people fat, and no one said anything at all when he started using racial slurs.”

She said a woman came outside and started filming the scene on her phone. When Sullivan came back inside, she said the woman and a man said the girls and the man had assaulted the unruly patron.

“This, to me, is what really was the most upsetting about the situation, was the reaction,” Sullivan said. “They told us not to let swear words hurt our feelings.”

She said two other patrons joined in, and said the girls and the black man escalated the situation.

While Sullivan was speaking with police, she said the woman had followed them outside.

“Unprovoked, she said, ‘Stop pretending we’re in the States. You’re safe here. Don’t be afraid of the cops. And also saying, Canada does not have systemic problems’.”

Cornerstone says it is devastated by the racial attack.

Cornerstone Taphouse took to social media to address a racist incident at the establishment. 

“We wish our customer had not been racially targeted because of the colour of her skin,” the post says. “We empathize with the realities that BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) and black people face this fear everyday, and we are sad our establishment became a place for this racism to express itself and cause harm to the young black woman. Know that we will never accept racism on our premises. We know that Black Lives Matter. We will continue to ensure to the best of our ability that Cornerstone is a safe space, and we will always stand with our black customers in their fight for equality. We condemn all forms of violence, and continue to strive for a world where all people are equal and safe, no matter if they are enjoying the ambience of our restaurant or simply out in public living their lives.”

In an email to The Record, the restaurant manager explained that the customer in question was in the process of being removed from the restaurant for unrelated matter, when he approached Niiki and Sullivan and verbally accosted them.

Cornerstone has permanently banned the man from its premises at 5th and Cliffe.



reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Comox Valleyracism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Former Kelowna cop faces fourth lawsuit alleging sexual assault

Ex-Mountie Brian Mathew Burkett is also separately facing seven charges of breach of trust

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

Smoky skies clearing throughout B.C. Interior

Environment Canada expects “widespread” improvement for all affected areas by Sunday

Penticton wildfire crew goes from Christie Mountain to Cold Springs

The team at Eagle Ridge Consulting is helping fight fires across the border

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

Province opens ‘middle income’ housing in Kelowna

Prices on the units are $1300 for a one-bedroom and $1780 for a two-bedroom, nearing area-average prices

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Reward offered for return of Okanagan puppy

An 11-week-old boxer-mastiff cross pup was allegedly taken from its Kelowna Friday, Sept. 18

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Okanagan company backs Orange Shirt Day contest

Vernon-based Tolko Industries sponsors art contest open to kids from kindergarten to Grade 12

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Stranger in truck grabs boy walking home from school in Kelowna

The 11-year-old boy escaped the incident, RCMP are investigating

Most Read