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Human-rights complaint filed over 'albino' term 0

JILL BENNETT AND MICHAEL MUI, 24 HOURS
Peter Ash, left, and Ikponwosa Ero have filed a human-rights complaint over Earls Restaurants' use of the term 'albino' in a menu advertisement.
(CARMINE MARINELLI, 24 HOURS)

Peter Ash, left, and Ikponwosa Ero have filed a human-rights complaint over Earls Restaurants' use of the term 'albino' in a menu advertisement. (CARMINE MARINELLI, 24 HOURS)

A battle is brewing over beer and wings offered by Earls Restaurants, whose menu advertisement of 'Albino Wings Wednesdays' has two locals born with the genetic condition outraged.

Ikponwosa Ero and Peter Ash filed their complaint under Ero's name to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal in November. It alleges the use of the advertisement as "intention to discriminate" against those with the pigmentation disorder.

In January, the tribunal agreed the case falls under its mandate, Ero said.

"This is a problem of using a genetic issue as a food item," she said. "It starts becoming colloquial language in culture and how do you draw the line?"

Earls said Tuesday its use of "albino" had been around for a quarter century, and dismissed any discrimination claims.

"It was named after the white rhinoceros and the rhyming name was chosen because it was both fun and whimsical in sound, and denoted something rare and special," wrote Mark Barry, a vice president at the restaurant chain.

Ero and Ash, however, said the term is anything but whimsical. Both claim to have witnessed discrimination in Africa, where murder of those with albinism is routine, and in Canada.

"One (Montreal) high school I was in, there was a group of boys, they were calling me, 'snow white, snowflake, whitey,'" Ash said.

"This culminated one day. Because of my vision (caused by the disorder) to see the combination lock on my locker, I had to crouch down . these boys came, and they ran my head into the locker. I went flipping backwards onto the concrete floor . as they were kicking me, they said 'Hey you stupid albino, you look like a freak.'"

Both said they had written repeatedly to the restaurant chain about their concerns since last spring, without results. They decided calling their lawyers would be a better option.

Ero and Ash are both part of an anti-albinism discrimination group called Under the Same Sun.

A copy of the complaint is available at www.earlsdiscriminates.com.


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