Portage Place Shopping Centre has hired an indigenous security contractor after a community elder was wrongfully removed from the food court in February.
Joseph Meconse, 74, was eating when a security guard warned him he only had 30 minutes left to be in the mall. When that time passed, Meconse was kicked out for loitering.
The mall has since apologized for how it treated Meconse, but has also gone several steps further to become a more inclusive destination in the city’s downtown.
Meconse was honoured on Friday at a news conference, which began with a pipe ceremony. The war veteran was named the mall’s official ogichidaa, an indigenous ambassador and liaison, who will establish and maintain positive relationships and foster mutual understanding.
“All I want is for our community to be respected,” Meconse said. “No one should be mistreated when visiting and enjoying each other’s company. Indigenous people are great people, our hearts are pure.”
Bear Paw Security will replace the mall’s current contractor, providing security services that considers and promotes indigenous culture and traditions.
The two sides came together with the help of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ and indigenous leaders.
“This will be the standard of business moving forward at Portage Place,” said Portage Place general manager David Stone. “We are committed to undertaking these goals and actions to ensure a welcoming environment for all.”
We are proud to be a part of the Indigenous initiatives at Portage Place this morning pic.twitter.com/73w6EMYn5e
— Downtown Winnipeg (@DowntownWpgBIZ) March 11, 2016