Canadians: We're not as nice as we think we are

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: LAM LE
Opinion: One public figure's opinions do not necessarily reflect the rest of the country's.

One week ago, I was riding the bus to the college when I witnessed something I have personally never seen in all 27 years of my life.

A middle-aged man stood up, and started to verbally harass and threaten an international student, much younger than he was. Keep in mind this student was not even sitting close to this guy, let alone doing anything at all to provoke this man who was yelling at him. The only thing he did was come to Canada and Fanshawe College to get an education. Maybe I am just “sheltered”, but I have lived in many cities, states, provinces and countries and have never seen anything like this. No — scratch that — I AM sheltered to have never witnessed this first hand. And on top of that I, as a Caucasian Canadian have never, not once, had issues living in other countries. Not one. So why should others have to endure this type of harassment here?

Of course I have heard of this stuff happening, including to close friends of mine, but I have never seen it up close and personal. I had always told myself, if I ever saw this happen I would stand up for the person who was being harassed.

A person shown reading a book. Text states exam time can feel overwhelming. Let us help you succeed.

And I did. But I was on a bus with 10 other people who did nothing but stare. Of course not everyone is comfortable with confrontation. I know I’m not. But how can anyone sit and watch something so disgusting take place and say NOTHING.

Growing up I was always (naively) taught that Canada is a “melting pot”; a country of acceptance and open arms. What I witnessed on the bus goes directly against everything we are taught as children, everything that we tell immigrants, international students and the world.

Another prime example of this sort of behaviour is the recent incident with Don Cherry and his use of “You People”. Someone with such a large public platform knowingly and openly used those words, which only incites racism and related behaviours. He makes it “okay”. It’s not.

And really if you want to get down to the nitty gritty of it are we all not “You People”. Unless you are an Indigenous person, native to Canada, we are all immigrants, regardless of whether you arrived yesterday or 100 years ago. To be frank, it’s depressing, and sad and any other adjective you want to throw in there. I want the Canada back that was warm, and that I was proud to be a part of.

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.