Dairy Queen staff ‘giggled’ at Nisga’a boy and his braids says mother

A Nisga’a mother says her son had a troubling experience during an outing on his birthday to the local Dairy Queen in Kitimat, B.C.

Sheree Alexander said it started when her son put in his order.

“She kind of giggled and she goes, ‘what did she want to order?’ and I said ‘he, my son would like to order an ice cream cone, one plain cone,’” she told APTN News. “And she giggled and looked back at her co-workers and she says it again.”

Her son Keegan is Nisga’a, Gitxsan and Haisla. He wears long braids – something his parents chose to honour their ancestors and family who attended residential school.

After this experience, the family wants to raise awareness about cultural importance of braids to First Nations people.

“It broke my heart, and I wanted to get angry and upset, but I kept my composure because I thought she didn’t understand, but then the third time, it was just being rude,” she said.

Alexander created a social media post about the experience and filed a complaint with the company.

She said she wasn’t impressed with the response she received.

Alexander said the company put conditions on an apology.

“We would like you in so we can apologize but you need to delete your post,” said the letter. “I asked is this an apology do you just want me to delete the post or are you guys really sorry for how you made my son feel and my family?”

APTN News contacted Dairy Queen Canada. Officials there, in turn, contacted the franchise owners who provided a statement about the incident.

“Upon learning of the incident, we immediately contacted the customer and, together with Dairy Queen Corporate, apologized and are working to make things right,” said the statement. “We also are implementing training for our employees to ensure our restaurant exemplifies the respect and appreciation we have for all people and cultures.”

Keegan’s family said they hope training and awareness can make a difference.

“I think everybody should be aware that First Nation’s boys do wear braids,” said Alexander.

“It’s not just young boy’s it’s the young men and the older generations that all wear braids now and it’s beautiful to see everyone joining together like that.”

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