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N.S. woman claims potential wedding venue violated her religious freedoms
A Dartmouth woman claims a local hotel is infringing on her freedom of religion by not offering appropriate food for her wedding reception.
Susan Ashley says the Delta Hotel in Dartmouth has denied her request to have halal food at the venue, something she says is needed for a traditional Muslim meal.
“It wouldn't have been a big issue, and I honestly feel that it infringes on my human rights,” said Ashely. “I can't say enough how upset I am.”
In a statement to CTV News, the Delta Hotel said they can offer some halal food, although it might not be up to orthodox standards and they wouldn't allow outside caterers into the venue. The Delta said bringing an outside caterer into their kitchen would mean they would have to suspend food preparation for the rest of the guests.
The Delta also said they try to work with their customers, but this particular case wouldn't be possible.
"Our catering menu does include many halal selections, however, we cannot provide assurances of no cross-contamination for clients who seek a true orthodox meal," said an official for Armour Group Ltd., which represents the Delta Hotel.
Halal means "permissible," and for Muslims it encompasses foods that are prepared a certain way. For meats, it refers to the way the animal is slaughtered.
“It's supposed to be a very quick, painless death. The knife is supposed to be very, very sharp, one swift go,” said Halal retailer Jibran Khan.
Halal food is becoming more accessible in the Halifax area. Khan says it's an important signal to Muslims that times are changing.
“I grew up here, 26 years in Canada not being able to go to restaurants, having to watch what I eat at friend’s places, so it just becomes a little restrictive in a lot of ways.,” said Khan.
Ashley is now looking at other venues, but she says there’s a price difference.
“Downtown Halifax is very expensive and I don't want to spend $50,000 on a wedding,” she said. “I believe the Delta declined allowing me to have a caterer because they would essentially lose profit.”
But Armour Group Ltd. said the Delta can't guarantee there wouldn’t be any cross-contamination during preparation.
"The client seemed committed to having an outside caterer from the outset of her request, which appeared to be driven solely by economics," the spokesperson said.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Emily Baron Cadloff.