Editorial: Judge people by their actions, not by their appearance

Few people in Thompson likely envy the security guards who are tasked with trying to ensure that intoxicated people don’t enter Walmart and potentially cause trouble, but that doesn’t give them the right to deny entry to Indigenous people and accuse them of being intoxicated without sufficient evidence.

Obviously, security guards are not part of the justice system but one would hope that they could try to abide by the same standard of presuming people are innocent until they are proved guilty when it comes to deciding who can come into the store and who can not. Being Indigenous in appearance is not sufficient and subjecting people who are coming to try and spend money at the biggest store in Thompson to being unjustly targeted as potential troublemakers because of their race is a violation of a basic human right.

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No one is denying that the majority of Thompson’s homeless population, many of whom have substance abuse issues and spend their days scaring up enough money to purchase some alcohol from the Liquor Mart just across the parking lot from Walmart, are Indigenous. And they are by no means the only Indigenous people who may sometimes be intoxicated. But alcohol addiction and intoxication isn’t limited to one particular racial group, and stopping an Indigenous person and accusing them of possibly being drunk because of their appearance is no more sensible than stopping a caucasian person and accusing them of the same thing because you saw a drunk white guy at a bar the night before your shift.

The problem isn’t solely Walmart’s, as they contract out security services to Impact Security, but that doesn’t mean they can wash their hands of it either. As the biggest brick-and-mortar retailer in North America with stores all around the world, Walmart has the money to invest in better training for those who work as security guards at their entrances and exits, especially now, since store closures earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic left them as one of only a handful of places that remained open to provide people with essential goods and services. In Thompson, a lot of the revenue Walmart brings in comes from Indigenous people who either live in Thompson or come to the city from outlying communities in order to do their shopping, often spending hundreds of dollars at a time. The least that these shoppers deserve is respect and fair treatment at Walmart. While there are a lot of problems caused by online shopping when it comes to the local economy, no one ever got turned away from Amazon because of how they look and the prejudices some people hold against others who look like them.

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