'You're not welcome here': Winnipeg couple told they 'look like' thieves, asked to leave Winnipeg craft store
A Winnipeg woman was hoping to buy a Christmas gift for her grandmother at a craft store earlier this week but was told she wasn't welcome to shop in the store.
Desiree McIvor and her partner were out shopping on Monday afternoon and stopped at the Michaels store on Regent Avenue West.
"We weren't even in the door for about five seconds and this lady approached us and I thought it was going to be the usual 'Hey, do you need any help or assistance?'" said McIvor, a member of Sagkeeng First Nation.
"She said, 'Well, you're not welcome here and you guys have to leave.'"
"I was in complete shock, I couldn't believe what she said."
McIvor, who is eight months pregnant, said the employee then accused the couple of stealing from the store earlier that day.
"She said right to my face, 'You guys look like people who robbed us this morning,'" she said. "It was humiliating because everybody in the store stopped and stared at us."
McIvor said they tried to explain to the employee that they had never been to the store before but the employee insisted they leave.
"I felt like I had no rights. It felt like I was two feet tall and I was just tiny. It felt like I didn't matter."
McIvor said they asked to speak to a manager, and the employee said that she was a manager, so they decided to leave the store.
McIvor's partner called the store from the parking lot and asked for the general manager to try and make a formal complaint. That manager then admitted the employee made a mistake, McIvor said.
"They just apologized and said we can shop, get a discount for the day, but at that point, who wants to spend your hard earned money when somebody just basically straight out called you a thief?"
A spokeswoman for Michaels said the chain is committed to treating customers with dignity and respect but would not elaborate on their store policies surrounding these kinds of events, or say what recourse a customer has if they feel mistreated.
"We are open to all and do not tolerate discrimination against any guest or team member and take any conduct to the contrary very seriously," said Mallory Smith, manager of public relations at Michaels.
"We are actively investigating the situation and will take appropriate action as necessary."
'It was that we were Indigenous'
McIvor, a 31-year-old university student, said she's been followed around stores in the past, something she says is common for Indigenous people, but has never been asked to leave.
McIvor said she and her partner felt like they were racially profiled and singled out because of their appearance.
"The thing I didn't hear was, 'You are the people that stole from us and you need to leave.' It was, 'You look like, you resemble, those people,' and I didn't think that was fair," she said.
"I'm pretty sure she meant it was that we were Indigenous."