On January 31, 2021, the Survivor Stories Project began sharing multiple stories of anonymous people claiming to have been sexually harassed, abused, or assaulted by a former employee at Chuck’s Burger Bar in Victoria. Thirteen accounts have now been published on the Survivor Stories Project instagram page. The stories allege that the Chuck’s Burger Bar employee acted in a predatory manor, coercing them into becoming highly intoxicated or drugged, or drugging their drinks. According to many of the accounts, the employee would then bring the women to his home and sexually assault them.
Chuck’s Burger Bar has made two posts on it’s social media regarding the allegations and has received many negative comments in response. Most recently, Chuck’s stated publicly that they have terminated the employee.
“Birth alerts” in BC refer to the controversial practice where social workers flag expectant parents to hospital staff without their consent when they believe the expectant parent poses a risk to the newborn. The birth alert directs hospital staff to alert the social worker when the baby is born. Ministry of Children and Family Development (“MCFD”) records from 2019 show that birth alerts result in the removal of a newborn from their parents “approximately 28% of the time.” Indigenous families are disproportionately affected by the birth alert system. According to MCFD’s records, 58% of parents impacted by birth alerts in 2018 were Indigenous. Birth alerts have been referred to in a report by the National Inquiry Into Missing Indigenous Women and Girls as “racist and discriminatory” and a “gross violation of the rights of the child, the mother, and the community.” Former Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond stated the following to IndigiNews about the practice:
“Apologies and amends are necessary, as there has been harm done, including promoting the stereotypes that Indigenous families require intense surveillance because they cannot safely care for their own children,”
However, the practice was not banned by the BC government until September 16, 2019.
If a newborn has been traumatically removed from your family shortly after birth, you may not even know yet that the removal resulted from a birth alert. According to MCFD, it has not advised families that their privacy rights have been breached with the issuance of birth alerts.
One spokesperson for MCFD claimed in a statement to IndigiNews that this was because MCFD did not want to “retraumatize” affected families by providing notifications of past birth alerts. In my view, this response only reinforces that the MCFD takes a discriminatory and paternalistic approach in its interactions with Indigenous families. The baby alert approach promoted a stereotype that Indigenous families are not capable of safely caring for their own children. The comment from the MCFD about retraumatization again reinforces a stereotype that Indigenous families are not capable of deciding what is best for them.
The MCFD should notify families that their privacy was breached by the issuance of a birth alert and then the families can decide for themselves whether they wish to potentially face retraumatization by going through a process of seeking an apology and amends. MacIsaac and Company is currently investigating potential claims regarding this matter.
In reasons for decision regarding X v Hot Mess Hair Salon (No 2), 2020 BCHRT 42, the BC Human Rights Tribunal dismissed a complaint against Hot Mess Hair Salon for allegedly refusing to provide a transgender woman hair style and cut services.
When complaint X inquired on a hair stylist’s Facebook page about pricing for a style and cut, the stylist replied that she only does women’s hair. When the complainant stated “actually I’m a girl ha, ha (it happens a lot lol)” and then went on to ask about availability, she received no answer. It appeared to her that the stylist blocked her from Facebook.
X then searched for the stylist on the internet and found that she worked for Hot Mess. X contacted Hot Mess to express her frustration, the owner apologized, assured her that she had not been blocked (she said the stylist’s Facebook page had been “locked”), and offered her a free hair style and cut. The stylist did the same. X refused and filed the Human Rights Complaint.
Ultimately, the tribunal dismissed the complaint, finding that X did not establish a connection between her gender identity and her inability to schedule a hairstyling appointment. It stated the following:
 In order for the complaint to succeed it would be necessary for the Tribunal to draw the inference that her gender was at least a factor in her being prevented from making an appointment to have her hair styled and cut. I am unable to draw such an inference for the following reasons.
 I have the evidence of X that she is satisfied that the stylist was not actually locked out of Facebook. Unfortunately, her reasons for reaching that conclusion are not supported by any expert evidence with respect to the use of Facebook or Instagram. Combine that with apparent efforts by the stylist to have a conversation with X and to book her in for a style and cut and then an attempt by Ms. Simpson to do the same, and I am not in a position to conclude that the events of March 5 were precipitated by X’s gender. It is just as probable that they were precipitated by the stylist’s expressed inability to respond to X via Facebook.