WARNING: This story and video contains graphic content. Discretion is advised.
It was supposed to be a sightseeing excursion to Banff’s picturesque Bow Falls on Saturday. But instead, a family from Alberta’s Siksika First Nation says they were subjected to an assault and a verbal attack. The Many Guns family says without hesitation it was because of the colour of their skin.
Fifteen-year-old Payne Many Guns was with a couple of friends, his mother Alayna and two of his uncles. The teens were throwing rocks into the river at Bow Falls.
Bow Falls in Banff, Alberta Jill Croteau / Global News
Bow Falls in Banff, Alberta
Jill Croteau / Global News
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He said without warning, a couple started accusing them of damaging property. As the conversation continued the man came up behind Payne, wrapped his arm around his neck and choked him.
“I heard footsteps behind me and then I felt a great force on my back and I felt someone’s arm wrap around my neck,” Payne recalled.
“I didn’t know what was happening. I felt terrified.”
Payne’s mother said her son and his friends told her what happened.
“Payne was holding his throat saying, ‘mom, mom somebody’s choking me, somebody’s choking me.’ Just the look in his eyes and the fear in his eyes, I knew something terrible had happened,” she said.
Alayna questioned the man who physically assaulted her son. She said the inquiries from the concerned mother triggered a barrage of racial slurs against the group, some of which she captured on her iPhone.
“The racial discrimination and the profanities started. ‘You stupid Indian, you effing this, you’re nothing but a drunk’ and just calling us things that were unbelievable.”
The troubling incident has left a lasting impression on the family.
WATCH: Viewer video of an alleged racial attack caught on video in Banff.
“I’m still trying to accept what happened and understand why,” Payne said. “I don’t know —; I feel different, I don’t feel the same. It made me feel ashamed of being who I am.”
Banff RCMP responded to the incident. Officers are continuing their investigation and expect to lay a charge of assault on a minor.
The man expected to be charged is from Alberta, but not from the Banff area.
The Many Guns are considering pursuing hate crime charges against the pair.