Indigenous scholar and filmmaker Nikki Sanchez accuses WestJet of racism

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      A former Vice producer enrolled in a PhD program at the University of Victoria has posted a serious allegation about one of Canada's major air carriers.

      Nikki Sanchez, a Maya Pipil woman who traces her roots back to Central America, claimed that a WestJet attendant accused her of being inebriated.

      This occurred after Sanchez, who is also of Scottish and Irish ancestry, inquired about a connecting flight from Victoria to Vancouver after five weather delays on January 15.

      "She took one look at me and did not ask for my name or flight number, and instead she asked if I had been drinking," Sanchez wrote on Instagram. "I honestly replied that I had had 2 drinks in the last 5 hours I'd been waiting for the flight.

      "She said, 'You smell like booze,' and, 'I know you guys can't handle your alcohol.' I was so shocked I barely knew how to respond—I explained my credentials and that I was not at all inebriated."

      Sanchez's eight-part Viceland documentary series on an Indigenous comeback was honoured as the best documentary at the Canadian Screen Awards. She was also named "Queen of Green" by famed environmentalist David Suzuki.

      Sanchez alleged that when she asked for help so she wouldn't miss a connecting flight to New York City, the WestJet staffer replied that she "was a liability to any airline, including WestJet".

      "She refused to help me at all, nor did she make any mention of how I could retrieve my luggage which had already been sent through to YVR," Sanchez wrote. "I was in complete shock."

      Sanchez is a former producer with Vice, which reported that she missed her chance to reach New York City for a photo shoot.

      A WestJet spokesperson told Vice that the airline is conducting an investigation and that it "has a zero tolerance policy for racism and discrimination".

      Below, you can see a TEDx talk that Sanchez delivered last year about decolonization.

      Video: Watch Nikki Sanchez's TEDx talk about how decolonization is for everyone.