By Kenneth Jackson
APTN National News
A bar in Toronto has responded to a social media storm created after patrons of the establishment were seen wearing “Cowboys and Indians” costumes Saturday leaving the impression the bar was having a racist themed party.
The Rhino Restuarant and Bar posted a statement on their website Tuesday saying it wasn’t a themed party, rather a group of people celebrating birthdays.
“We want to correct the impression that the Rhino hosted the event, or in any way endorsed or condoned it, which is not accurate,” they said. “We don’t know why the group chose to dress in these costumes. To the best of our information, at no time were any derogatory remarks made about aboriginal people.”
The bar let the group in believing they were on a pub crawl and would be on their way soon to another watering hole.
Hayden King, an Anishinaabe writer and teacher, said he was disappointed it took so long for an apology, and worse that it would happen at all.
“Troubled it took so long,” said King on Twitter to APTN. “And disappointed in the initial tolerance of racism.”
Some people didn’t take well to the costumes.
People complained immediately.
They said the bar did nothing to stop it.
“We saw the group (and) complained to the bouncer immediately,” said patron Danielle O’Hanley. “He shrugged nd brushed us off. We grabbed a seat at the back of the bar so we couldn’t see them.”
People have said on social media allowing the group in was racist on its own.
“We are deeply troubled by this. Nothing is more important to us than our customers and the experiences they share at the Rhino,” the statement said. “To think that any of our customers left our establishment feeling offended and upset is unacceptable,” said the statement.
The statement said they “have the utmost respect and admiration for Canada’s aboriginal people and their distinctive cultural traditions.”
During the night a group of people arrived to protest the costumes. The group asked if they could give the costume wearing party a document entitled “Our Culture is Not a Costume.”
They asked the group to remove the costumes and they did.