Vancouver Zeitgeist
Reflections on Vancouver, British Columbia and other topics, related or not


Reconciliation never

Power-drunk native leaders set a petty
and malicious example for their youth

Greg Klein | March 25, 2023

Hyatt Regency Hotel Vancouver.jpg

Vancouver’s Hyatt Regency Hotel, where a 20-second delay
to unlock a washroom constituted a racist threat to native safety.
(Photo: Hyatt Regency Vancouver)


Comparisons? How about Marie-Antoinette calling out soldiers to deal with an errant servant? But that works only to some extent, since the Karen of Karens eventually got her guillotined comeuppance.

Otherwise that example roughly parallels Canada’s most powerful ethnic group marshaling its troops (Canada’s courtier media) against a lowly hotel worker—and his deep-pocketed, controversy-averse employer. That’s what happened on March 10 when the oddly named B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres joined three other native groups to unleash their almighty fury at a press conference.

Native spokespeople say a native guest of downtown Vancouver’s Hyatt Regency Hotel returned after a night out, had to use a toilet and, instead of going to his room, went to an area where the toilets were locked. He asked a hotel employee to unlock a washroom. The employee initially directed him to a part of the hotel where washrooms were still open. Natives say their guy asked four times before the employee complied, but by that time it was too late. The 40-something “respected knowledge keeper” wet himself. Natives say the employee mocked him and smirked.

The hotel responded that “a thorough internal investigation” found the employee unlocked the washroom within about 20 seconds of the first request. Prior to the March 10 news conference, hotel management declined to meet with native spokespeople but did apologize to the incontinent guest. As management told media: “Just last year, all hotel leaders completed the 4 Seasons of Reconciliation certification course through the Indigenous University of Canada and the course was made available to all hotel colleagues.”


BC natives explain the violent racism of a locked toilet

Native leadership mentors Cal Albright, Leslie Varley and Robert Phillips
present role models for power, not character. (Photo: Jason Payne/PNG)


Not nearly enough, said the native groups, who spewed out a torrent of familiar but powerful cliches: “Systemic racism,” “anti-Indigenous racism and harm,” “violence and racism,” “the result of systemic anti-Indigenous racism and … nothing short of a human rights violation.”

The spokespeople demanded more fulsome abasement and mandatory “anti-racism training” so hotel management and staff will “understand their biases against Indigenous peoples.” The “friendship” society also announced it was pulling out on short notice a four-day leadership training event for 1,000 young natives that had been scheduled at the Hyatt later this month. The cancellation was necessary “to assist in keeping Indigenous youth safe.”

Demonstrating once again that media never tire of cheap racism allegations, the hyper-hyperbole proved successful. By March 15, Hyatt management caved.

What happened during the five-day interim can be imagined. Possibilities range from fears of ongoing demos and government sanctions to likely cancellations by other entities worried about getting smeared by association.

Besides waiving cancellation penalties, the hotel promised immediate “meaningful and actionable next steps” mostly based on subjecting staff to a native “cultural advisor.” The Hyatt even accepted the notion that the establishment had somehow compromised native safety.

Less than magnanimous in victory, the “friendship” society again used the locked washroom incident to state: “Anti-Indigenous racism is an embedded feature of White-settler society that enables incidents of hate and violence against our people at a tragic rate.”


The United Nations

With a stock reference to UNDRIP, native spokespeople
claimed a United Nations rationale for their
tempest over a toilet. (Photo: UN)


Results of the native cultural adviser’s Hyatt training sessions might never be publicized. Will non-white workers (a significant proportion, possibly the majority, of hotel staff) accept the head-fuck of sensitivity training? Or could they turn against their white co-workers by co-opting the process?

Regardless, hotel rank-and-file might be relieved about the cancelled leadership event. Imagine having to serve 1,000 young people being trained by embittered, vindictive, self-righteous adult brats. Implications are staggering for the next generation of native leaders.

Yet here’s a possibility that’s much more disturbing, especially considering that this furor comes from B.C.’s elite native groups: the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, the First Nations Summit and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, in addition to the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres. What if all that hysterical rhetoric—the stereotypical but inflammatory jargon, those cheap and hyper-inflated accusations of racism and even violence, the insufferably stupid, trite emotional bullshit—what if all that isn’t a deliberately opportunistic power ploy?

What if that’s the best these people can do? What if that’s the highest level of discourse possible from the elite spokespeople of Canada’s most powerful ethnic group? And these are the people empowered to define “reconciliation”—what it means, how it can be achieved and when, if ever, it will be achieved.

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