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Indigenous man sent home from work in View Royal for participating in Orange Shirt Day

Company says employees required to submit prior notice if they intend to alter uniforms
Edwin Frommelt was sent home from his job at Quality Foods in View Royal for wearing this t-shirt on Orange Shirt Day, a moment to draw awareness to the Canadian residential school system. (Submitted)

An employee of Quality Foods who wore an orange shirt to work says he was sent home for being out of uniform. He was participating in Orange Shirt Day, an event to raise awareness of the Canadian residential school system.

Edwin Frommelt – who is First Nations and has family members who attended residential schools – arrived for his scheduled shift at the View Royal location of Quality Foods on Sept. 30 wearing an orange shirt.

RELATED: Victoria hosts Orange Shirt Day to remember residential school students

Frommelt says he was approached by the store’s assistant manager and told to change into his uniform – a collared shirt and tie – or go home. Since he arrived with only the clothes he was wearing, he chose to go home.

“I wanted to avoid escalating conflict,” he said, so he left in order to avoid being reprimanded.

Quality Foods released a Facebook statement Monday apologizing for the incident.

A sentence in the Facebook post stated, “Could we have handled your situation better? Absolutely. And for that we are very, very sorry.”

In an interview Tuesday, Lyall Woznesensky, who works in professional development for the Island-based grocer, said the Quality Foods policy for altering a staff uniform in any way is to provide a request prior to the day.

“Not all the causes are of a degree of what people would share on that day,” he said, adding he was not aware of Orange Shirt Day prior to the Sept. 30 incident.

He plans to travel to the View Royal store tomorrow to speak with the management team and to personally apologize to Frommelt.

Frommelt says he wasn’t aware of the policy, and said other employees have worn coloured shirts to mark similar days, as well as Halloween costumes and jerseys in memory of the Humboldt Broncos.

The point of going public with the incident, he said, was not to boycott the grocery store chain.

“I still want people to go to Quality Foods. I’m just trying to make sure this gets corrected and make reconciliation toward it.”


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