Roxanne Eetuk can’t shop at the Northern Store in Coral Harbour for a month after store management took issue with a social media post she made about the outlet.
On March 22, Eetuk shared a post from the Northern Store in Iglulik, tagging the Coral Harbour outlet and calling the store a profane term, writing, “Trying to keep us under your [expletive] control now?!?!”
That day, the RCMP showed up at her house to serve her a ban notice, which stated she could not enter the premises of the Northern Store or housing owned by The North West Company.
“In the event you attend on the property of the said store, we shall formally complain to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and request an investigation leading to prosecution under the provisions of the Criminal Code,” wrote the notice, which expires on April 22.
“It’s crazy,” said Eetuk to Kivalliq News. “It’s like they’re trying to provoke the people, the townspeople.”
She explained that she was sharing a post from the Iglulik Northern that showed about 20 Elders gathering for a feast with no masks on, and she wanted to call attention to all the restrictions that are still being enforced in the Coral Harbour store.
“I decided I’m going to share this and I’m going to tag our local Northern Coral Harbour,” said Eetuk. “I called them this name … I’m not sure if that’s what might have offended them, but I don’t think that’s a very nice reason to try and ban anybody.”
She hasn’t been to the Northern herself in about a month but said there are times she needs to.
“I have a family,” said Eetuk. “I’m a mother and there are days where I need to go to the store myself and see the product myself, so I can provide for my family.”
Her only other option in town is the Co-op. After posting about the ban on social media, Eetuk said she’s heard from other people in the community who have been banned as well.
Brian Hand, store manager, responded to an inquiry about the situation in an email, also signed by Ellen Curtis, media coordinator for The North West Company.
“It is not an action we took lightly,” stated Hand. “However, we are seeing a lot of harassment on social media and made the decision that we can’t accept this behaviour toward our store or the people who work there.”
He went on to say he understands these are stressful times and that social media provides an outlet for frustration, but posts such as Eetuk’s often inflame problems.
“It is always our preference to discuss issues with customers privately and respectfully,” stated Hand.
The RCMP V Division’s media relations told Kivalliq News that the detachment’s role in this situation is strictly to keep the peace between the two parties by serving the document.
“There is already a strained relationship between Roxanne and the Northern Store,” stated the RCMP. “The RCMP assisted, as said earlier, only to keep the peace by keeping them separated.”
In small communities, the RCMP takes on many different roles, added the media relations unit’s email.
The RCMP went on to say that all private businesses have the choice to ban anyone from their establishment.
“After this point, the RCMP will only become involved if there are any issues as a result of this,” wrote the RCMP. “For example, if Roxanne goes to the store and attempts to enter it, gets told to leave because she is banned and then refuses to, therefore causing a public disturbance, then the police would intervene as with any call for service for someone causing an issue in public.”
The RCMP is not enforcing the ban, explained the email, but only any negative issues that could possibly come from it.
Currently, there are three people banned from the Coral Harbour Northern Store, stated Hand. One is from the fall and the other two are recent.
“In the two years that I have managed this store, we have banned six people in total,” he stated.