One day during the recent baseball tournament in Val d’Or, Bertie Wapachee wanted a night out with his wife.
The first stop was Bar Vegas. As they tried to enter, they were asked for a membership card. Cost of the membership card: $20.
Bertie, who is the Cree Youth Grand Chief, was surprised. It was the first time he was ever asked for a membership card and he’s been going there for years.
“I couldn’t understand what he was telling me because never in my life was I asked for a membership card there.”
As he argued with the doorman, he was even more surprised to see non-Natives walk into the bar, pay just $1 each and get a stamp.
Bertie asked the doorman why the non-Natives didn’t need a membership card. “He couldn’t answer that and said talk to my boss. I told him he would hear from me,” Bertie said.
Later on, the night took another twist when they went to the Chateau Inn.
After paying $5 at the door, they noticed that non-Natives were being charged only $2. “Something strange was going on here,” he deduced.
Bertie asked a mixed-blooded Cree to go into the bar speaking French and see how much he’d be charged. “Two dollars for you, my friend,” they told him.
When Bertie asked the people at the door about the difference in prices, they said regular customers were charged $2 while others paid $5. Bertie told them he’s been a regular at the Chateau Inn for 12 years. On the other hand, the mixed-blood who was charged only $2 has only been in the bar a handful of times. Bertie also pointed out that he isn’t the type to get rowdy, either, if that was a concern; he hasn’t had a drink in five years.
Serge Pomerleau, manager of the Chateau Inn, laughed when told the story. He denied that regulars are charged less and said the story was made up by “a little group of hard-heads (tetes-forts).”
Bernard Cadieux, Bar Vegas manager, said the bar was full that night. “When it’s full, we ask for a membership card whether they’re Native or not.” He denied Bertie’s story, saying: “It’s my word against yours.”
Bertie is exploring his legal options.