Wide support for this action
On the afternoon of September 11, the Regina brewery Pile O’Bones took to social media to announce that the previous afternoon, their establishment decided to refuse service to and ban two anti-mask and anti-vaccine protesters. The social media post added that there is recent video footage of these two individuals destroying the memorial on the steps of the Saskatchewan Legislature meant to commemorate the discovery of unmarked and mass graves at residential schools across the country, including in Saskatchewan. The individuals refused to leave and had to be escorted from the premises, at which point they shouted anti-Semitic slogans and made Nazi salute gestures at the brewery staff, and threatened to organize future protests in front of the brewery. The social media post mentioned that Pile O’Bones stands with the victims and survivors of the residential schools, including those experiencing intergenerational trauma, and racists are not welcome at the Pile O’Bones brewery. The post was greeted with substantial support from the people of Regina. We got in touch with Josh Morrison, the director of operations for the brewery, to learn more about the decision, what led to it, and what they anticipate in the coming days.
On the afternoon of Friday, September 10, Josh Morrison and his wife were sitting at a table at the brewery. When the two individuals in question walked in, the couple immediately recognized them as the people who had destroyed the “Every Child Matters” memorial on the steps of the Legislature that Thursday afternoon. Morrison mentions having seen the video on social media and being appalled that someone would destroy a memorial to mourn the victims and survivors of residential schools. Further, these two individuals, also known to be anti-mask and anti-vaccine, were bothering some of the other patrons. This led to Morrison and his wife deciding that they were going to refuse service to these two people.
When asked if there had been any past issues with these two, or others, Morrison said that the brewery specifically has not had issues with them. However, it has been evident that some people have been causing trouble all over the city ever since the beginning of the pandemic. Earlier, when these individuals started protesting at hospitals, Pile O’Bones came together with other local businesses and sent gift cards to employees working in the ICU in all the hospitals in Regina. Morrison added that while these individuals and others like them have been unpleasant and unreasonable in the past, in more recent times they have also been very openly racist, and should be recognized as such.
We asked Morrison what the reaction has been from the community in Regina or Saskatchewan in response to their decision, and he mentioned that there has been an overwhelming show of support – not just from the city and the province, but across Canada. As for negative reaction, the banned individuals have threatened to protest at the brewery in the near future. In fact, Morrison adds that this is the reason why the brewery decided to post about the incident on social media: to make sure patrons are aware of why the brewery might suddenly be a site of more frequent protests.
Morrison finished by sharing some thoughts on the social roles he feels are expected from a local business. “It’s delicate, trying to find the right place to be an ally to Indigenous people. We think about this all the time – what can we do to contribute to reconciliation? Throwing out racists is easy. The dictionary tells us that reconciliation is a noun, but in Canada, it’s a verb. We all need to think about what we can do – what actions we can take – to move reconciliation forward.”