Everest: for the Discriminating Palate?

Aaron Shelbourne has a long history of sticking up for the little guy through his work with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP), and he's also a founding member of Independence Unlimited, an advocacy group for people with disabilities.

He's also a victim of discrimination.

Shelbourne, who lives with Cerebral Palsy (CP) and communicates through augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) which requires an assistant, used to be a regular patron of Everest restaurant on Queen Street, until he was recently asked to never come back by manager Karma Sanchok.

Apparently Shelbourne accidentally damaged a newly renovated door trying to use the restaurant's restroom. After Shelbourne and his communication assistant paid for their meals, Sanchok informed Shelbourne's assistant that they would not be welcome back.

On Friday, March 25, Shelbourne returned to Everest to demand an apology (see video above, paying special attention to the fact that Sanchok still refuses to speak directly to Shelbourne, almost as his condition makes him invisible). The event turned into a small rally for the rights of the disabled that was eventually peacefully dispersed by the police.

Shelbourne is now planning a second protest, tentatively scheduled for sometime in May. He's also speaking with a lawyer and considering a lawsuit. He wants to make sure the owners of Everest hear his message loud and clear:

"I am demanding a public apology from the management of the restaurant. I want them to acknowledge that I am a person and that because I use a wheelchair, that doesn't make me any less of a person. If they don't like scratches on their bathroom doors they should make the washroom accessible!"

The owner of Everest remains unapologetic, and recently responded to a post on Molly's Blog saying that "the wheelchair customer ... caused a big gouge on our new door .... not just a minor scratch." He goes on to insist he has "the right to address customers who cause damage to our property .... if un-intentional [sic], we atleast [sic] expect an apology" from "this wheel-chair person."

For more information on this story, please visit the Boycott Everest Restaurant on Queen group on Facebook; 352 members and counting.

Video from YouTube


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