Controversy after Indigenous woman restrained in Winnipeg hotel lobby; manager claims she was brandishing knife

A video depicting what appears to be an Indigenous woman with her hands tied behind her back pleading to be allowed to leave a Winnipeg hotel is being condemned by Indigenous organizations in Manitoba.

But Winnipeg’s Marlborough Hotel claims the woman was intoxicated and was brandishing a knife in the lobby, threatening guests and staff.

They confirm her hands were tied using “wrist restraints” after Winnipeg police allegedly advised them to protect guests and staff.

“Police attended on scene and took the individual into custody,” the hotel’s general manager Rakib Hoque told CityNews in a statement, adding he believes the woman was charged by police.

Winnipeg police confirmed to CityNews the woman was charged with assault with a weapon on the day of the incident. Police say they did not see the video until afterwards, and there is a subsequent investigation ongoing.

WATCH: Woman restrained in lobby of Marlborough Hotel (warning: video contains graphic language, disturbing content)

The more than three-minute video – capturing the Dec. 25, 2023, incident – was filmed in the lobby of the downtown hotel by what appears to be a bystander.

The woman, who is visibly distressed and shaken, can be seen with her hands restrained behind her back attempting to leave the hotel. The woman says “pervert,” and a man can be seen blocking the entrance.

“Lock the door,” a man’s voice can be heard off camera.

“She’s trying to run,” says another. “She’s handcuffed and she’s running. She’s in the lobby.”

The video was first shared to Facebook on Dec. 26, 2023. A version that’s 20 seconds shorter was reshared on TikTok by Children First Society on Jan. 18, with the caption “girl zip tied.”

The video begins with two men holding the woman near a stairwell, with another woman claiming: “They’re taking her in the basement now.”

The man filming the incident repeatedly asks the woman for her name, but her answers are muffled. He’s then asked to leave the property.

“I’m not leaving her alone,” he can be heard saying.

“Did she do something wrong?” he later asks.

“Don’t leave me,” the woman can be heard pleading.

The man filming then leaves the hotel and stands outside, watching her through the glass doors as a man closes them on him.

“Don’t worry Sis, I’ll be outside,” he tells her.

Police investigation underway, AMC claims

The Marlborough Hotel maintains the staff’s intention “was to prevent this young woman from harming herself or others until the WPS arrived.

“We apologize for not issuing this statement much earlier. Our concern was and is that this matter is before the courts.”

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said it was “actively cooperating” with the Winnipeg Police Service regarding the video, which it called “troubling” and “distressing.”

“The AMC has received reassurance that a thorough investigation by the WPS is underway,” it said in a statement.

The AMC also says it is “immediately terminating its business relationship with the Marlborough Hotel. This decision is a direct response to the deeply concerning video circulating across various social media platforms.

“The welfare and safety of First Nations citizens are the paramount concerns of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.”

Hotel staff should undergo cultural sensitivity training: MKO

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) called the incident “unacceptable” and “a flagrant violation of human rights and dignity.”

“The treatment of this woman is a stark reminder of the ongoing mistreatment of Indigenous women and girls, and it is imperative that immediate and thorough investigations are conducted to ensure that such incidents do not occur again,” MKO wrote in a statement.

“The appalling treatment of this woman by hotel staff is a clear example of the systemic issues that contribute to the vulnerability of Indigenous women and girls and sheds light on the larger issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, a crisis that has plagued our society for far too long.”

The MKO is demanding the hotel and its staff undergo cultural sensitivity training.

“It is crucial that steps are taken to address the root causes of such behavior and to ensure that Indigenous women are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

The group is also asking the First Nations Inuit Health Branch and other organizations to “refrain from taking our patients to this hotel and be thoughtful of where they send our vulnerable citizens in the future.”

SCO echoes call for investigation

The Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) is also joining the MKO in calling for a “thorough investigation” into the incident.

“On behalf of SCO, I also want to pray for the safety of the young woman in this video. I feel saddened by what you experienced,” Grand Chief Jerry Daniels said in a statement.

The SCO says it is also supporting calls that patients travelling from SCO Nations to Winnipeg for health care “should not need to stay at this hotel.”

“It is also essential that our citizens, when travelling to access services in urban centres, are able to receive accommodation with hotels that will work to guarantee their safety,” said Chief Daniels.

A rally is scheduled for Sunday at the Marlborough Hotel, according to the Indigenous groups.

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