Community members and local businesses are stepping in to help after a Stratford sandwich shop was targeted by hate-motivated graffiti last week.

Many hope the incident is a turning point for the city.

On the morning of Nov. 1, staff at Sirkel Foods arrived at work to find homophobic graffiti scrawled over the eatery’s rainbow coloured rear door, window and dumpster.

“Our first thoughts were that these are our friends, and certainly we’re there to stand beside them,” said Ryan Stokes of Black Swan Brewery in Stratford.

Proceeds from the sale of some pints at the brewery will help pay for security cameras at Sirkel Foods.

“I thought maybe that’s just an opportunity to help out a little bit, but more so to bring some awareness to the fact that this had happened and that Stratford is not a community that’s going to tolerate this type of abuse of people in our city,” Stokes said.

sirkel foods owner


The Festival Theatre was also quick to act, raising its Pride flag.

“What I love is the community outreach that has come together in this moment,” Daviorr Snipes, director of diversity, equity and inclusion for the Stratford Festival, said.

Snipes added that after a number of hate-motivated incidents over the summer, including intimidation and slurs directed at cast members of colour, it’s become an issue the community needs to solve.

“We are bringing in actors from all over the country and when these artists come here, they have to know they’re coming to a safe place,” Snipes said.

“It is paramount to the theatre and the City of Stratford itself that we tackle this issue as strongly and as openly as we can.”


Stratford police are investigating the incident at Sirkel Foods.

“We take all crime seriously, but specifically hate-motivated crimes, we take very seriously,” said Stratford Police Chief Greg Skinner. “We can’t afford to have our communities continue to be divided and to go down this path.”

Skinner said police have seen a number of hate-motivated incidents in recent months and are asking for the public’s help.

“Public trust in the police is a huge issue and we can’t do our jobs without members of the public trusting police… and we need the public to be able to support us in these types of investigations,” Skinner said.

As for the owners of Sirkel Foods, according to a sign posted on the door of their business, they’re overwhelmed by the incident and the community response, and are taking a well-earned vacation.