Since the onset of the pandemic, I have been driving my car branded with U.S. licence plates. While both my car and I have been legally allowed to be in Canada, that did not dissuade some members of our community from bombarding both my wife and me with questions about our legal status in Canada.
To be frank, I get it. People were scared; they were concerned. They were frightened. But I, too, was as equally scared when I was pinned in a driveway by a Jeep driven by a tall man who needed to be convinced that I truly did live here.
And, I’m sure I’m not the only one who had their fair share of harassment. I’ve seen numerous cars with signs plastered in their rear windshield with exclamations that they live here. Some even felt the need to apologize, as if they were doing something wrong.
Of course, provincial leadership wasn’t exactly supportive of transplants who had out-of-province plates, but Horgan did say that “we don’t know the circumstances of individuals when we come upon them” back in July 2020.
Despite Horgan somewhat fumbling his words, he did have a good point: We don’t always know what other people are going through, where they come from or why they might be in Squamish. The 2016 census recorded 355 non-permanent residents in Squamish and over 100,000 in B.C.
Surely that number has risen in the last five years.
Yet, it isn’t the job of the citizens to figure why someone might be in Squamish, especially not in a bullying manner. While it might seem that people are cheating the system — and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m sure some people were — leave it up to the systems in place to question people.
On two separate occasions, I explained to the police my legal status in Canada. Of course, this didn’t make me feel very good, but I can respect why they have their questions.
And, trust me when I say that I’d prefer not to remain in limbo, yet another loss from the pandemic was massive delays in reviewing permanent residency applications, and my application just so happens to be on this list.
Until I get approved, my car and I will remain as they are.
But I hope that Squamish can welcome me to the family as it always did before the pandemic.Andrew Hughes is a UBC journalism student, Squamish resident and intern for the summer at The Chief.