An Indigenous man says he was racially profiled after a London Transit Commission (LTC) bus driver ordered him to be banned from service for an entire day.
Ian Badger, 33, planned to take the Route 4 bus to work on the morning of October 3.
He waited at a bus stop in downtown London, Ontario, outside the New St. James Presbyterian Church on Wellington and Oxford streets. He wore a compulsory mask and the hood of his sweater was pulled up to protect his head from the cold.
As the bus pulled up in front of him, Badger pulled out his ticket and prepared to board, as he had done several times before. But he said he didn’t expect what happened next.
“The doors don’t open,” Badger said. “And then he accelerates and takes the left turn very quickly, as if to make sure I can’t even catch up. And then all these other buses started to pull along at the same time. I was pretty shocked.”
Badger took an Uber to work. At the end of his shift, he left a message on the LTC customer service line detailing the incident. He said he made a point of disclosing that he identified himself as a Cree to the representative.
“When I told him my name, he said, ‘How do you spell your name? “And I said, ‘Ian Badger,'” Badger said.
“And he said, ‘Badger, like the bug?’ I’m like, ‘We’re indigenous, sometimes we are named after animals. Sorry.’ ”
About a week later, LTC contacted Badger to tell him that the driver had mistaken him for one of the 40 passengers banned from taking the bus. He learned from the representative that the driver had told his colleagues in the area to avoid picking him up for the rest of the day.
“Identity error”, declares the public transport service
Badger said the representative said the speeding driver was responsible for the ban decisions.
The representative also said that after reviewing the bus camera footage of the incident, Badger did not match the physical description of anyone who had been banned, even with their hood and mask on.
“I’m confused and angry and obviously embarrassed because there’s no reason this should have happened,” Badger said.
“I feel like I was racially profiled. I was standing next to an Every Child Counts sign from the church, so the optics weren’t great.”
The LTC sent Badger 10 bus tickets to compensate for the money he spent on Uber.
In an email to CBC News, a spokesperson said LTC was aware of the incident and had investigated accordingly.
“We can confirm that the findings of the investigation indicated that this incident was a case of mistaken identity, with our operator mistaking this customer for a banned passenger. This information was shared with the customer at the end of the investigation, as are our apologies for the error, ”wrote CEO Kelly Paleczny.
“If the customer believes they have been the subject of racial profiling, we ask that they provide these details to London Transit so that a further investigation can be undertaken.”
“Not a friendly city for people like me”
Badger said he had previously been a victim of racism in London.
“It’s not a friendly city for people like me,” he said. “It happens to me a lot, and it’s something I have to deal with like an ordinary person. I don’t feel supported.”
According to a recent report commissioned by London & Middlesex Local Immigration Partnership (LMLIP), Indigenous people in London and Middlesex County face more discrimination than immigrants and visible minorities.
Six in ten Aboriginal respondents said they had experienced discrimination in the region in the past three years.
“Twenty-five percent of Aboriginal respondents specifically indicated that they had experienced discrimination on public transit,” said Vicki Esses, director of the Network for Economic and Social Trends at Western University and co-author of the report.
“We should be upset and angry about it, but I don’t think it’s a big surprise. We know that indigenous peoples face a lot of discrimination in many parts of the country.
Badger said he would like to see more sensitivity and representation of Indigenous peoples within the city’s transit service. He also said he had not attempted to board an LTC bus since October 3.
“They don’t know what was going on with that bus driver that day, but he went out of his way to make sure I didn’t get on the bus and knew I wasn’t allowed to. get on the bus, “he said.
“They are in charge of an essential service in the city and I doubt that I am the only one that has happened to.”