South Okanagan barber berated after opening new shop

A South Okanagan barber found himself on the receiving end of racially-charged comments when he was confronted by his competition. 

The barber, Surjit,  caught the incident on video.

Surjit, a South-Asian man who’s lived in Canada for eight years, opened his newest barber shop in Osoyoos at the beginning of the month.

Three days later, Suzanne Gerrard, who owns a nearby barber shop, paid him a visit.

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In the video, Surjit was confronted with a lecture and some pointed comments regarding his ethnicity.

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“Do you not understand how, especially being new in this country, is stepping on toes? And undercutting? We don’t need another barber in this town,” said Gerrard in the video.

Surjit says the shocking encounter prompted him to emotionally withdraw — even closing his shop for a few days.

“I’m really upset for two to three days,” said Surjit. “My family was wondering why I was so upset.”

When confronted about her behaviour and language, Gerrard insists she’s not a racist but remains disappointed his barbershop was granted a licence so close to hers and three other barber shops. 

“It’s great they issued him a licence. It’s a free country, but not so close. It’s bad taste; it’s disrespectful for everyone,” said Gerrard.

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She’s also concerned about his competitive pricing during the current economic times. 

“We can’t compete with those prices $10-15. It’s not something we can compete with especially right now just getting back to work just getting to earn a living again,” said Gerrard.

Surjit has since reopened and is moving forward with his business plan.

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“Yeah don’t worry for haters. Hard work, then you grow,” said Surjit.

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