Rash of racist notes, vandalism in Kamloops, Okanagan 'not surprising' in these times: Professor | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Rash of racist notes, vandalism in Kamloops, Okanagan 'not surprising' in these times: Professor

Photo has been censored. Notes bearing links to white-supremacist websites found near Vernon Secondary School Oct. 2.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Patrick Vance

CONTENT ADVISORY: Unedited photos at the bottom of this story show racist and homophobic graffiti

A Kamloops mother is feeling uneasy and angry after finding racist and homophobic slurs written on a car in her building's parking garage this week.

"It’s a very emotional experience, to see the 'N' word written a parking stall away from where your biracial child gets in the car," Jennifer Dolson said.

She found the writing on Sunday morning, Oct. 4, and alerted the owner of the car, who is Metis, Dolson said.  

"To some people, this is just punk kids, and they turn a blind eye," she said. "You don’t have that privilege when it’s your family, or if it's you."

This is just one of a growing list of overtly racist acts that a Simon Fraser University professor specializing in race said is unfortunate, but not surprising.

"There’s been a heightened racism this year," Dr. Peter Chow-White said. "It’s been a particularly intense time."

A Kamloops daycare in Aberdeen was also vandalized twice last weekend with racist and anti-Semitic writing. 

In Vernon, notes bearing a link to white supremacist websites have been found in several locations around schools on multiple occasions.

The first notes were found Sept. 30, on Orange Shirt Day, and more were distributed Oct. 2.

Near Penticton, an Indigenous pictograph on the reserve was defaced with racist graffiti in August. 

Chow-White said that incidents of racism aren't uncommon in times of crisis and uncertainty. 

"At times of crisis, usually there is a quick move to blame, and usually you blame poor people or foreigners," he said.

He added anti-Asian sentiment has been particularly high this year, as some accused Asians of bringing COVID-19 to Canada. The same prejudice surfaced during the SARS outbreak in 2004. 

"(Racism) is always around, but in moments of crisis, it rears," Chow-White said. "It’s like a multi-headed hydra. All the heads come out at that point."

He said the notes scattered around Vernon schools are particularly concerning.

"Putting slurs up is one thing, but actual organization and trying to recruit children, that’s a totally different thing," he said. 

However, individual acts of vandalism shouldn't be dismissed either.

"What often happens is, racism gets attributed to the actions of an individual — they're 'crazy, illogical' or not on board," he said. "That’s a categorical mistake to make, there is a logic to what they’re doing."

He said attributing racism to one wacky individual ignores all the contextual factors that support the way they think, and their actions.

"They had to think it was OK, they didn’t think that it was OK just on their own," he said. "It’s an expression of a social problem through an individual."

After finding the slurs written on the car in her parking garage, Dolson reported the incident to Kamloops RCMP, and encourages others to do the same.

"I would ask people, even if they think it’s something small, to please report it," she said. "Nothing can change if they don’t know there’s a problem."

Chow-White said ridding a community of racist acts like this requires advocacy and action.

"To sit back and say nothing, as a white person, is being complicit in the actions themselves," he said. "If the community wants to see things change, people need to not tolerate this, and be vigilant." 

Vandalism of pictographs on the Osoyoos Indian Band, August 26.
Vandalism of pictographs on the Osoyoos Indian Band, August 26.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Osoyoos Indian Band

Racist and homophobic slurs found on a car in Kamloops Oct. 4.
Racist and homophobic slurs found on a car in Kamloops Oct. 4.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Jennifer Dolson

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brie Welton or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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