With the explosion of everyday racism in the United States following the election of the white-supremacist-supporting President Trump, it’s wonderful to find a story that serves as an example of how our Canadian neighbors to the north properly deal with public displays of racism.
The story begins on a public bus in Edmonton, Alberta where two indigenous women, referred to as First Nations citizens in Canada, were riding the bus and minding their own business. One woman was accompanied by her 6-month-old son in a stroller, while the other was 8 months pregnant.
Out of nowhere a fellow passenger, who happened to be a late middle-aged white woman, began harassing the two women with racist comments, according to a report on Global News Canada. The mother of the young infant, Dalen Cardinal, described the experience:
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“She started to antagonize my eight-months-pregnant friend. She was calling her fat — a fat Indian. Saying we belong at the shelter because we’re no good for nothing Indians. Stereotyping us – saying we live off the government and at least she didn’t get pregnant young.”
Cardinal asked the woman to stop her diatribe, and when she refused, the young mother started recording her rant on a mobile phone. The attacks continued.
“At least I didn’t get knocked up,” the woman is shown saying in the video
“Well that’s sad for you. I’m really happy,” Cardinal replied.
At this point, another passenger, an elderly white woman, spoke up in support of the First Nations women.
“It’s none of your *** business who supports who,” the elderly woman said.
With the situation rapidly escalating, the driver of the bus stepped in with a warning directed at the passenger so full of racial animus.
“If you’re going to talk like that you need to get off this bus,” he told the racially bigoted woman.
When the woman ignored his request, he left his seat at the next scheduled stop and escorted her off the bus, calmly saying “You know what? You can go wait for another bus.”
The First Nations women were grateful for the intercession of their fellow passenger and the bus driver but were traumatized nonetheless.
“It still really hurts my feelings. I’m really hurt that it happened to me and my son had to be there,” Cardinal said, explaining why she won’t take the bus to school any longer.
ETS, the company that operates the bus line praised the driver’s actions and explained that they have absolutely no tolerance for racist comments directed at either their passengers or their employees.
“In a typical situation an operator would call for assistance and security resources would be dispatched and they would resolve the issue. But obviously in this case he felt his safety wasn’t in jeopardy and he wasn’t going to tolerate this behaviour any longer,” an ETS spokesperson said.
“We’re proud of our operator. He made a judgment call that he had heard enough and he gave the woman a fair warning,” he continued.
For her part, Cardinal wants to thank the bus driver for his help.
“He really took into consideration that we’re human too and that shouldn’t be happening, not just to First Nations people — but to anybody,” she told Global News Canada, saying she wishes she could thank him and the woman who came to their defense in person.
It’s a shame that President Trump’s racist invective is seeping across the border to infect the minds of Canadians as well as the more easily influenced among the American populace at home. Prime Minister Trudeau may soon need to call for an anti-racism campaign in Canada to counteract the bleed-over of the odious messages drifting across the border.
You can watch video of the incident in the news report below.
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Original reporting by Sarah Kraus at Global News Canada.