Gay slur written on Edmonton employee's Valentine

EDMONTON -- A company that sells party supplies says it is investigating after an employee at one of its Edmonton stores posted a photo of a Valentine for him that was defaced with a homophobic slur.

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Degas Sikorski, 20, posted the photo to Facebook late Saturday night, but it was his mother's sharing of the post along with an explanation that caused a storm online.

Shelley Bramhoff Sikorski stated on Facebook that a supervisor at the Party City store made Valentines for all the staff, but when her son picked his up, it had a hate message on it.

The photo shows a homemade Valentine that has been marked with a homophobic name and as well as the statement, "You are not getting any shifts for a reason."

The company says in an emailed statement that it "is committed to creating a fair and inclusive working environment" and is looking into the matter.

A supervisor at the store who identified herself as Karlina says staff at the store are awaiting guidance from head office about how to proceed with the investigation and any other steps.

"As a company and a store, this kind of behaviour isn't tolerated," the supervisor said.

However Sikorski posted on Facebook on Sunday that he is enthralled with the love an support people have shown, but wanted to be clear that the incident does not reflect Party City.

"This was one person of many. And all the other people I work with are wonderful people," he said in the post.

Reached on Sunday evening, Shelley Bramhoff Sikorski said her son, who told her he was gay at 14, has been a loyal employee at the store while putting himself through university.

She said she and her son tried contacting the store manager Saturday night and even emailed him the photo, but didn't get a reply until Sunday.

"He's always felt safe there. Yes, people knew he was gay. He's not flamboyant, he doesn't throw it in people's faces," Bramhoff Sikorski said.

The company said in its statement that it would provide more information when it becomes available.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson reacted strongly to the picture of the defaced Valentine, tweeting that it was offside with the city's Pride spirit.

"Discrimination based on sexual orientation is unacceptable," Iveson said in the tweet.



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