LETTER: Speaking out about racism and reckless driving

I have lived in B.C. for many years and proudly became a Canadian Citizen a couple of years ago. I am a finance director, and most importantly a Mom.

Most of my time in Canada has been spent in Vancouver, but recently I moved to Squamish for a more peaceful and safe lifestyle, better suited for us now that we are parents.

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Our family has lived in various countries, England, the U.S., Canada, South Africa, Chile.  Friday was the first time I experienced intimidation against the female gender, discrimination against immigrants and road recklessness and rage in a first world country.

On Friday evening, I was driving downtown when I got caught up in front of two individuals racing their vehicles off the traffic light intersection on the Sea to Sky Highway.  One of the vehicles was still in front of me at the next set of traffic lights, I took down his registration details and he then proceeded to follow me to Shoppers Drug Mart. He first parked behind me; I stayed in the car, as I wasn’t sure it was safe to get out the car.  He then came to park next to me.  I don’t like being afraid, and he was making fun of me for trying to take down his details. 

I opened my window, he opened his and I said: “You almost killed me back there, do you want your reckless driving to cause a five-year-old to end up without a mother?”

After more back and forth, he laughed it off and told me that if I don’t like it, I should go back to where I came from, I have no place in this country.

I tried to reason with him. I said I love this country and I love the people, he’s obviously an exception to the Canadian dream.

This experience brings very serious issues to light in our community. Should we not educate residents on what is right and wrong, what is acceptable?  Do we experience this and simply let society ruin our day and fear for our safety without speaking out, for the next woman and mother to experience the same?

Are we really not safe driving on our own because we are women —  in Canada of all places?

Would he have followed me if I were a man?

Do Canadians really feel this way about foreigners?  Is it OK to have individuals make us feel that we don’t belong just because we are not citizens by birthright?  I have brought business and income to this country and B.C., I pay my taxes, I am no burden on public services, but yet I am told to go home because I feared for my safety.

Last but not least, how many deaths have there been on this highway? What is being done to address reckless driving?  We have lost family and friends in car accidents. It is a devastating loss for the loved ones left behind with scars that never heal and voids that are never filled.

Valentina Phelps

Squamish

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