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Woman says owner of Antigonish inn kicked her out, made racist comments

A group of friends say they were kicked out of an Antigonish inn because of their skin colour, but the owner says race had nothing to do with it.

Tonya Pelley of Guysborough Co. says she and three friends - all African Nova Scotian - checked in to Antigonish Chateau Inns around 11 p.m. Saturday; a fifth person, who was not staying in the room, was also visiting.

She says they were getting ready to go out when a man, who they had never seen before, began knocking on the door and told them to leave.

Pelley says they asked the man, who later identified himself as the owner, why he wanted them to leave.

She says he then called police, and asked officers to come and "remove these gangsters" from the room.

Pelley tells The Hawk at this point, they still had no idea what they had done wrong.

"Finally we just called it like we saw it," she says. "We're like 'is it because we're black?' Of course, that's the only reason we have left - so we just called it out, and he's like 'I don't want your kind here'."

Pelley says she's shocked this would happen in this day and age, especially with February being African Heritage Month.

"We did get kicked out a hotel because of the colour of our skin," she says. "This wasn't years ago - this happened a couple of days ago. [Racism] is still there."

Pelley took to social media to share her story; her Facebook post was shared more than 4,700 times by late Monday afternoon.

Inn owner says there was party going on in the room

The owner of the inn says loud noise, not the colour of their skin, was the reason the group was asked to leave.

Gary Cusack says he was in bed sleeping when he heard the sound of a car alarm.

Cusack tells The Hawk he had no idea what their ethnicity was until he went over to their room.

"I went over [to the room] and asked them to shut the alarm off," he says. "When I opened the door, there was a major party going on inside."

Cusack says he asked the six or seven people in the room to leave, but was met with a flurry of obscenities.

He says he didn't make any racist comments towards them - he went back to his office and called police.

"[The RCMP] were there for about 15 to 20 minutes," he says. "They made sure everybody left the room, and then they left."

Cusack says there were a number of young hockey players and their families staying in rooms near Pelley's, and the noise was occurring past their 11 p.m. quiet time.

He says he's made a number of contributions to the African Nova Scotia community, such as donating a number of hotel rooms to guests staying in town for a funeral.

An Antigonish RCMP spokesperson confirms they did respond to a complaint of a disturbance at the property shortly after midnight.

Sgt. Brian Rehill tells The Hawk the officers that responded worked with the two parties to reach a mutual resolution, a standard practice in every noise or disturbance complaint to try and make those on both sides happy.

He says no one was arrested, and no charges were laid.

Pelley says they're still out the money they paid for the room, plus $150 for a damage charge.

Cusack says he told her she could get a refund once staff checked the room for damages Sunday morning, but she hasn't made contact with them since.

He says they never charged her for damages because the room was not damaged.

Cusack says the $150 is a hold on the credit card, which is a standard protocol.


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