Some wishing to attend a local event this weekend were disappointed when a Mexican woman who had been living on PEI for more than a year was denied entry to the Charlottetown event.
Valeria Toussaint says she is using her ID from Mexico to go to liquor stores, bars and other events in the city without any problems.
But when she tried to enter the street fest organized by Discover Charlottetown on Friday night, she was told she needed an ID in English. The event was for ages 19 and up.
“I was so excited to go,” said 23-year-old Toussaint. “I went last year and I had a great time there. I love Discover Charlottetown programs.”
Toussaint was with her boyfriend, Diego Orozco, who is also from Mexico. She said security was fine, allowing her to come in with her US visa, but her Spanish-language ID was a problem, she said.
“I showed my identity to Mexico, which I’ve used all the time since I was here, in every restaurant, at every bar, at every event,” she said. “I’ve never had a problem with that.”
Security told him that they could not read his ID. He used his phone as a light and told where his date of birth was located. But the security guard explained that he could not accept it as it was not in English, he said.
“I don’t know if I was crazy or not, I was just confused about the situation,” she said. “Wherever I go they ask me for identification. ID, that’s it. No ID in English, ID in French.”
Toussaint isn’t calling the incident racism, but he said it “seems to” happen. In the end, she said, she wishes the rule had been clearly communicated before she came to the entrance.
“It’s depressing, it’s sad,” she said.
This is not an isolated incident.
In fact, a CBC reporter was on the program Saturday night and heard people being told they could not enter because their ID was not in English.
Toussaint said he had other friends who were denied entry for the same reason but did not want to speak to the media.
Discover Charlottetown officials said they spoke to an on-site liquor inspector and confirmed there were “several people” who were denied entry because their dates of birth could not be read.
“A quick look at the 2021 PEI Liquor Control Commission policy manual says, ‘If the date of birth is not legible in English, admission or alcohol service may be denied on campus,’” an emailed statement from the organization read.
It said the company hired for security would be contacted to see if it could be prevented in future incidents.
“We are saddened and disappointed to learn that two island residents were denied entry to the street gala last night due to their ID being from Mexico,” the email said.
Orozco was allowed in because he had a US visa to leave Mexico with his ID, but he left with his girlfriend. He is disappointed that they missed a good evening together.
“We felt like we didn’t belong here,” he said. “We felt terrible. We felt discriminated against.”
Corinne Clemens of PEI’s Tourism Industry Association was unaware of this rule and hopes it may be revisited.
“I understand the disappointment this will deprive someone of and I hope steps will be taken to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” she wrote in an email.
“We want to see all events and activities welcoming and inclusive for those coming to or new to our province.”
CBC News has asked the PEI Liquor Control Commission about the English-only rule. Department officials said the issue was being reviewed, but a response could come by Tuesday.