Nunavut family wants apology after 7-year-old boy kicked off Canadian North flight

A Clyde River, Nunavut, woman wants answers and an apology after her seven-year-old grandson, who has a disability, was kicked off a Canadian North flight on Monday last week.

Regilee Palituq’s grandson Josiah, who she says uses a wheelchair and only speaks a few words, was traveling from Iqaluit to Ottawa for a series of medical appointments.

The boy was traveling with his parents, brother and sister. Palituq was not on the plan, but shared the story as it was told to her by her daughter.

Palituq said an incident occurred where Josiah scratched a flight attendant. As a result, security was called and the family of five was escorted off the plane.

“They need to apologize to my daughter and her family. They should not treat people with a disability this way whatsoever,” Palituq told CBC, in Inuktitut.

“My grandson is wheelchair-bound. The employees need to have a better understanding of how to treat incidents like this, when there are obvious signs of a disability.”

In a written statement to CBC, Canadian North said a flight attendant had asked the boy to raise his tray and he struck them in the face.

Kelly Lewis, a senior advisor of executive office and strategy with Canadian North, said the attendant was left with scratches and bruising, and that the child’s escorts witnessed the incident and “did not react, offer any apology or acknowledge the situation in any way. “

Josiah Sangoya, 7, uses a wheelchair and was traveling to Ottawa with his family for medical appointments.

Josiah Sangoya, 7, uses a wheelchair and was traveling to Ottawa with his family for medical appointments. (Submitted by Regilee Palituq)

Lewis said the decision to remove the family was made to ensure the flight could proceed and for the safety of the other passengers.

The family was rebooked and traveled on a later flight that day, but Palituq said her grandson missed his first appointment in Ottawa.

Palituq said her grandson was tired and agitated from waiting at the airport that day.

“He doesn’t know any better. They treated this in the extreme and I’m really upset about it,” she said.

Palituq told her daughter’s partner called Canadian North and complained about the incident.

“I don’t understand why they treat a boy with a disability this way. I don’t understand,” Palituq said.

“Children do not have the mind of an adult yet. Especially children with disabilities, whatever disability it may be, they need to be cared for differently,” she added.

Lewis said disruptive behavior, including refusing to follow safety instructions and “any form of inappropriate physical contact” is met with a zero-tolerance policy.

“In cases involving medical travelers under escort, certain expectations are in place. Escorts, particularly when accompanying children, bear the responsibility not only for meeting basic and medical needs but also for managing behavior,” Lewis wrote.

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