West Edmonton Mall employees are not happy with management’s decision to open earlier than ever before on Remembrance Day this year.
This will prevent staff from attending Remembrance Day ceremonies.
Unlike Southgate, Kingsway, City Centre and Londonderry malls – all of which are opening at noon, West Edmonton Mall is scheduled to open at 10 a.m. this year. It marks the first time the mall is opening before noon on the holiday.
While there will still be a ceremony at the West Edmonton Mall Ice Palace, employees will be working and shoppers will pass by on their way to make purchases, instead of paying their respects.
Employee Yvone Joubert told Global News that her colleagues were shocked by management’s decision.
Joubert is a new Canadian citizen for whom Remembrance Day is a special occasion.
“It means a lot to me because (it) has a personal connection to me being able to be here and have the life I have today.’
She said she wished employees were consulted before the decision was made to change the hours.
Some of Joubert’s colleagues questioned the move and she said they received a response explaining the decision.
“They wanted to be more competitive compared to the other malls,” Joubert said. “So it’s a frustrating thing to think they’re more focused on making sales and making money than honouring those who served.’
In a letter, management apparently suggested ways stores can mark the day.
The idea was to pause and remember the sacrifices in the middle of the store. Joubert said that’s unrealistic.
“They’re still going to expect to be helped and that puts us in a difficult situation because we’re so focused on our customer experience, but at the same time want to be honouring those who served.”
Angela Faechner, a store manager at West Edmonton Mall, agreed.
Both women are asking the mall to change its hours and open at noon, the same way it has in previous years. The mall’s own ceremony runs until noon.
“I’m in a store where we are directly in front of the ceremony. We can see that going on,” Faechner explained. “To be ringing transactions through and have our music playing – it seems really disrespectful for me.”
Faechner has some employees who are married to actively-serving members of Canada’s military, and had a hard time telling them the news.
“I was appalled. I thought, ‘this is so disrespectful to our veterans, to our military, if we can’t close just for two hours to show our respect’.”
Both of her grandparents also served in wars.
“I’m sorry to my grandpas. This seems to be so important, this retail business right now. I’m sorry that’s what the world is coming to.”
Global News and Corus Radio have made attempts to contact West Edmonton Mall about the decision but did not receive a response. (bw/with files from Global News)