Tseshaht Market is located on Highway 4 west of Port Alberni. (GOOGLE MAPS)

Tseshaht Market is located on Highway 4 west of Port Alberni. (GOOGLE MAPS)

Tseshaht First Nation condemns actions of abusive customer

Customer objected to Tseshaht Market’s COVID-19 protection policy

Tseshaht First Nation is condemning the actions of a customer at Tseshaht Market who reacted violently to COVID-19 protection measures.

Earlier this month, a customer entered Tseshaht First Nation Market and Gas Bar on Highway 4 and began to yell at staff and use obscenities. He was objecting to the store’s COVID-19 protection policy, where people entering the store are required to wear face masks and use hand sanitizer. The male customer moved toward a female staff member and, at that time, male staff intervened and escorted the customer out of the store. Staff took pictures of his car with their cell phones before he drove away.

The next morning at approximately 5:30 a.m., a projectile was thrown at a Tseshaht Market window, shattering the window. From cameras, staff were able to determine the same car was involved. The matter was reported to the police.

The Tseshaht First Nation Council and Tseshaht Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) released a statement on Nov. 30, condemning this type of behaviour.

“Had a market employee gone to work early to open the market, there could have been very serious injury,” the press release states. “Tseshaht Market is owned by the Tseshaht First Nation and they have the right to put COVID-19 prevention measures in place to protect their staff and customers. People who do not like the protection measures are free to patronize another store.”

Tseshaht EOC Information Officer Hugh Braker said that Tseshaht will not tolerate the abuse of staff anywhere.

“There is no place for this type of behaviour in a civilized society,” he said. “Our staff and customers were exposed to unruly behaviour and assault. People must accept the measures we are taking in our community to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or they can stay away. The Tseshaht EOC stands with the staff of the Tseshaht Market in condemning this violence.”

Ken Watts, Tseshaht councillor and a member of the Tseshaht Market board of directors, said Tseshaht condemns the actions of this individual.

“We encourage everyone to embrace Dr Henry’s thoughts on this being our time to ‘be kind, be calm and be safe,’” he said.