Greenwood shows support for food truck driver forced to shutter

A Greenwood, N.S., food truck operator who was forced to shut down after alleging racism against provincial inspectors decided to give all his remaining food this weekend.

Saturday was Rejean Cromwell’s birthday and dozens of people stopped by the truck to show support. Les Gaul, one of Cromwell’s customers at Seafood by Rejean & More, said he’s not happy about the situation.

“My wife and I have dropped down here since he’s opened. The place is very clean, the food is very good,” Gaul said.

Earlier this week, Cromwell said his food truck was driven out of business by a provincial inspector who called him “you people” and suspended his food licence. Cromwell, who is Black, took the “you people” comment as a racial slur.

An inspection report dated July 29 said the terms and conditions of Cromwell’s permit were not being complied with. It stated the food truck was deficient in an adequate drainage system, waste disposal systems and an adequate supply of potable hot and cold water.

Gaul read about Cromwell’s concerns and felt the use of “you people” was inappropriate.

“They should know better,” he said.

Dozens of people turned out to Seafood by Rejean & More on Saturday to show support. (Brooklyn Currie/CBC)

Alex Gaudet, who travelled 120 kilometres to the food truck from Weymouth, said racism does exist in the valley. He said it can be difficult for others to recognize it if it isn’t something that directly affects them.

“Being a Black person in the Valley and people saying there’s no racism here, but experiencing it first hand, you have to come out and support that — prove that it’s here,” Gaudet said.

Stanley Viner said there are very few Black people in the community and he believes what happened to Cromwell had everything to do with race.

“I worked here, I know how they think and what they’re up to,” Viner said.

Jeannie Burns, a Greenwood resident, has been coming to the food truck since he opened. She thinks what Cromwell is going through is completely unfair.

“He’s just a guy trying to start a business up in a nice community and they’re just messing him up on it. I don’t think it’s right,” Burns said.

Alex Gaudet and Stanley Viner said they could relate to what Rejean Cromwell is going through. (Brooklyn Currie/CBC)

Burns said she wanted to show her support because Cromwell “is a good guy.”

“Love the guy, he’s awesome and he’s good with the community and people around here too. I think he should stay, he shouldn’t have to be pushed out.”

Ron Whitman, another customer, said he felt it was important to tell Cromwell to stick to his guns.

“We need new business, we need new entrepreneurs … you can see by the turnout people are appreciating him being here as well,” Whitman said.

‘Thank you’

Cromwell told CBC News on Saturday he was overwhelmed by the community support. His food truck was in a parking lot that was full all afternoon. 

“Greenwood, Kingston, Annapolis, the Valley — I thank you guys for my birthday wishes and support,” he said. “And I hope it continues not just for me but for anybody having issues people with people of authority.”

Cromwell said he has a meeting with officials on Tuesday to see if the issue can be resolved.

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