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Miscommunication mishaps

Allegations of discrimination lead to complaints

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Though the sun shines and the weather is balmy, Christina Kang is not enjoying her vacation.

"I'm a little disappointed," she said. "I'm on vacation, but there's just nothing else to think about."

Kang, Bosco Fung and Glenda Sanchez filed complaints through the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship commission in early June against the Palace nightclub after they were denied entry in late May. The trio have stated that their denial was due to their ethnicity and complained of racial discrimination at the hands of Palace bouncers. In late July, Kang received the Palace's response.

"The response is handwritten, it's not filled out completely, and there were spelling mistakes," said Kang. "It seems like they just dashed it off."

Palace spokespersons maintain that the denial was based on a misidentification of one of Kang's party as a known troublemaker. The response form, filled out by Palace general manager T.A. Abagoush, alludes to this fact. Though Abagoush could not be reached for comment, Palace night manager Tony Evangelista expressed confidence in a potential conciliation process.

"We're looking forward to the conciliation," he said. "We feel very confident that we will be able to resolve things favourably. We're not saying this is a frivolous claim, but it's without merit and once it goes to conciliation, we're confident that everything will come to light and it will be worked out."

Kang did not share his optimism.

"With conciliation, you sit down with a conciliator and the other party and then talk," she explained. "I can't see being very comfortable sitting down with these people. It seems like the complaint wasn't serious to them. It's serious to me."

The response from the Palace also indicated the possibility of a written apology to the trio.

"They said they would give us a written apology if we felt that we were wronged somehow," said Kang. "But for them to give us an apology but to tell the media that we were possibly criminals and we're just using our race as leverage because we didn't get in... it's not the same story."

"This is a very tough situation," responded Evangelista. "We put our staff in a position that we trust, and we've done the best we can to try to make sure that further misidentification of patrons never happens again. But it happens, to probably every club that's ever opened. I think when both sides get together and we get their half of the story and our half of the story, I think it'll all make sense."

Kang, Fung and Sanchez concurred in earlier interviews that a public apology acknowledging the racist behaviour of the Palace bouncers would be accepted.

Despite turmoils experienced by the Palace nightclub and complainants, Manpreet Dhami remains calm while awaiting a response to his human rights complaint against Bourbon Street Calgary nightclub.

"I'm just waiting to see what they have to say, and I'll play it by ear from there," he said. "I haven't thought about it too much, I just want to see what their attitude is. I don't think an apology is too much to ask for."

Dhami was denied entrance to Bourbon Street in late May, and has also claimed the denial was racially motivated. His complaint was not filed until late July, and Bourbon Street personnel have 21 days to respond.

"Basically, the way I'm looking at it is they've done something wrong," said Dhami. "And I want to know that it won't happen again, I think that's an important point."

Bourbon Street management could not be reached for comment.

Both Dhami and Kang pointed out the importance of their actions.

"I think there are people who have this happen who don't say anything because they think there's nothing they can do," said Dhami. "It was my friend Dave [Gossen] who totally encouraged me to do this, and people should know that there's something they can do, and not just let it happen over and over."

Kang agreed.

"Even if this doesn't work in my favour, at least I tried to do something about it," she said. "It's better than just sitting down and taking it."

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