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Toronto restaurant makes amends for racial discrimination incident

Longtime Toronto restaurant Hong Shing announced that it has finally made amends with the customer who they were found guilty of racially discriminating against four years ago. 

The late-night restaurant near Dundas and University posted a press release last week, along with an Instagram photo of Hong Shing's owner Colin Li next to Emile Wickham, the man who filed a human rights complaint against them in 2015.

The picture, which was taken last week, shows the two men posing outside of Hong Shing. 

"On the morning of May 3rd 2014, Emile and his friends received service that caused great hurt and embarrassment,"says the caption below the photo. "It should have never happened and we deeply apologize."

"We have a renewed commitment to ensure all our customers feel welcome and receive equal service. We intend to continue working with Emile to ensure that the Hong Shing experience always meets this standard." 

Hong Shing was found guilty of racially discriminating against Wickham and three of his friends earlier this year following an incident on his birthday, when Wickham's group was asked to pre-pay for their meal while other non-Black patrons weren't.  

Wickham, now 32 years-old, says he's forgiven the restaurant, and says the apology was "a genuine one." 

"They acknowledge they messed up," says Wickham. "The apology went a very long way." 

At the time, the staff at Hong Shing defended their request for pre-payment, and later released a statement justifying their policy as a security measure against dine-and-dashes.

Then, in May, the restaurant appealed the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal's order to pay Wickham $10,000 with interest—a move which Wickham describes as aggravating—but that appeal was eventually dropped. 

According to Hong Shing's statement, Li, who took over the restaurant from his parents after the incident, has since removed the pre-pay policy, and "has committed to ensuring that all of Hong Shing's staff will participate in racial sensitivity training". 

"Just based on his discussions with me, I believe that he’s genuine and making the wrongs," says Wickham.

Wickham says that the two first began communicating when he dropped by Hong Shing during Caribana weekend—not to eat, just to talk. Despite their ongoing legal dispute, the two men came together to work on a solution. 

"I intend to have follow up discussions with him," says Wickham."More importantly in this whole thing, I believe there are a lot of food establishments that have taken note of this decision."

On whether or not he intends to eat at Hong Shing again in the future: "I'm not opposed to it. It's something I need to work my way through." 

Lead photo by

Hong Shing 

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