‘A scary situation’: Family of Jordan’s Principle namesake evicted from hotel

A woman whose family has become a symbol of Indigenous rights is speaking out after being kicked out of her hotel room late at night in downtown Winnipeg with nowhere to go.

Jerleen Anderson-Sullivan was in Winnipeg on Wednesday, Jan. 11 after escorting her father from Norway House Cree Nation while he was flown in for a medical emergency.

Her husband and two children drove more than 900 kilometres from Norway House to Winnipegso they could be together while Anderson-Sullivan’s father was being treated at the Health Sciences Centre.

She said they booked a room at the Canad Inns hotel located next to the hospital.

“They were supposed to accommodate a room with two beds so that my children and my husband would be able to stay with me,” said. Anderson-Sullivan.

But because the hotel was fully booked, they had to settle for a single room, with Anderson-Sullivan’s 17-year-old son sleeping on the floor. Her 10-year-old daughter was forced to stay at a different hotel with her aunt.

Not an ideal situation, but Anderson-Sullivan and her husband were willing to accept the compromise. Things started to go wrong when they decided to bring their daughter back to the Canad Inns hotel room for a visit.

“As soon as we brought her up, a minute later the security guard shows up and tells us the hotel has a no visitor policy,” said Anderson-Sullivan.

She said they told security the visitors would leave, and they quickly did – going back to the hospital to visit Anderson-Sullivan’s father for a few hours.

When they returned to the Canad Inns hotel at the end of the night – without visitors – Anderson-Sullivan and her family found themselves evicted from their room.

“We went and dropped them off around 9:30, and on our way back in before 11, they told us that we could not access our room, that we had to pack up and leave,” she said.

Anderson-Sullivan said she was not allowed to speak to the hotel manager, and the Canad Inns staff did not help them find alternative accommodations.

“They just pretty much threw us out of the hotel with no regard for our safety or our well-being,” said Anderson-Sullivan.

She said it was a scary situation to be in, “There’s a lot of risk for us First Nations people coming in from the north,” she said. “There’s a lot of people going missing from our community, and that’s worrisome for me especially when I had my son with me.”

Anderson-Sullivan said the incident was particularly hurtful because of her family’s connection to Jordan’s Principle, named after Jordan River Anderson who died in hospital at age five while government agencies fought over who should pay for his care.

“Jordan was my brother, and my dad is ill in the hospital, and I tried to explain that to the hotel staff, but they would not take anything. They would not be compassionate or understanding,” said Anderson-Sullivan.

Canad Inns said in an email statement to CTV News, “Canad Inns places the utmost importance on the safety and security of all persons, and has deep respect for our Indigenous partners and guests.

“We can confirm that the information that has been reported is incomplete,” the statement goes on to say. “For the protection of all parties we cannot disclose specific details, but we do offer our sincere apologies for this unfortunate incident.”

Anderson-Sullivan said it was a shock for someone visiting Winnipeg from the north. “We expect to come in and not have to worry about being thrown out of hotels … having to run around late at night, wondering where else were going to go,” she said.

She said they packed up, left the hotel, and gassed up their vehicle because they expected to spend the night in it.

However, the hotel accommodating Anderson-Sullivan’s daughter was able to also take in her son. She said her and her husband were then able to find a double bed at a boarding house, “We got to spend a few hours there and get some sleep,” said Anderson-Sullivan.

She wants to see more compassion from any business serving the First Nations community from the north, “It’s a whole new environment, its different for most of us.

“We are paying customers,” she said. “They’d be missing out on a lot of business if we all stopped going there.”

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