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Protesters Storm Winnipeg Hotel in Outcry Over Treatment of Indigenous Woman

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Upwards of 100 people gathered at the Marlborough Hotel in downtown Winnipeg on January 21, 2024, to protest the treatment of an Indigenous woman who was restrained by hotel staff with zip ties. The incident, which occurred on December 25, 2023, was captured on a widely shared video that showed the woman with her hands tied behind her back, visibly upset.

According to Rakib Hoque, the general manager of the Marlborough Hotel, the woman, who was believed to be intoxicated, had pulled out a knife and threatened guests and staff. Winnipeg City Police were immediately called, and the hotel staff used wrist restraints to protect their guests and themselves until the authorities arrived. The police had received two calls related to the woman’s behavior that day, one in the morning for loitering and another at around 1:30 p.m.

Hotel staff were able to disarm the woman and restrain her until the police arrived, as confirmed by Const. Claude Chancy from the Winnipeg Police Service. The 18-year-old woman has been charged with assault with a weapon, although the allegations have not yet been proven in court. Chancy stated that under certain circumstances, it is not a criminal offense to restrain someone, and in this case, the staff reasonably believed they were preventing a continuation of the assault and ensuring the safety of all those present.

First Nations leadership in the province, represented by Garrison Settee from Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) and Cathy Merrick from the Assembly of Manitoba Chief (AMC), expressed their concerns over the treatment of the woman. They questioned the use of zip ties and the authorization behind such actions. The woman, who had been staying at the hotel for a medical appointment, is from a northern First Nation community, and the AMC has announced the termination of its business relationship with the Marlborough Hotel.

The incident has sparked outrage among the Indigenous community, resulting in a protest at the Marlborough Hotel. Crowds of people gathered in the hotel’s lobby, drumming and demanding answers from the staff. The anger escalated, leading some protesters to explore the hotel’s basement to search for further evidence.

Both the MKO and the Southern Chiefs’ Organization issued statements condemning the actions against the woman and called for a thorough investigation into the altercation. The Winnipeg Police confirmed that they are currently investigating the woman’s allegations of abuse against the hotel staff.

Rachel Adams

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