Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Regarding an Incident at our Commercial Drive Location

On Sunday 18 August, a client called our Commercial Drive shop to ask if we were buying books. A staff member said we would be happy to look, and the client brought books down to offer for sale.
Between the client’s phone call and his arrival at the store, the staff member took a phone call from another bookstore that made him feel uncomfortable about buying the client’s books. 
When the client arrived, the staff member did not discuss the concerns raised by the other bookstore with the client, but simply said that he was unable to buy the client’s material.
The client was, understandably, confused and upset, because he had been told on the phone that we would at least look at his books.  Voices were raised, and an argument ensued that eventually involved other customers.

Frustrated and angry, the client left the store and threw his books around on the sidewalk.  For reasons I do not understand and definitely do not agree with, the staff member chose to leave the store and hurl the client’s books back at him.  An altercation ensued that ended up with a 911 call and the staff member and client being interviewed by the VPD.

There has been extensive online discussion suggesting the client was profiled and assaulted because he is Indigenous.  This allegation is untrue. The staff member did not realize the client was Indigenous until he was being interviewed by the VPD, and the client’s indigineneity played no role in the staff member’s poorly conceived decision making.

To be clear: the client did nothing that excuses or explains his treatment by my staff.  Our response was unconscionable, offending even basic standards of common sense, good judgment, and empathy.  The staff member and I apologize, unreservedly, to the client and his family for our collective failure.
To be clearer: I am a settler who owns and operates businesses on the unceded traditional territories of the Swx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations. 

I believe all levels of Canadian government have systematically failed Indigenous people since first contact, and that so-called “reconciliation” efforts are typically attempts at maintaining a preexisting power balance in favor of a settler state.  I do not want to reproduce, in miniature, existing power relations.

I am available for ongoing dialogue with anyone affected by this incident, either by phone (604.876.4311), Twitter (@pfbvan), or email to pulpbook@gmail.com.

Christopher Brayshaw
Owner, Pulpfiction Books
20 August 2019