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'I’m just like you': Edmonton woman says she has been a victim of racism during pandemic
EDMONTON -- An Edmonton woman of Chinese descent said she is one of the Canadians who has been experiencing racism since COVID-19 started spreading through Canada.
“I had people tell me to f-off. People came up to me and told me to go to my home country,” said Abigail Douglass.
“One lady was talking to her husband very loudly, I’m sure she was trying to let me hear her and she said ‘How do we know that they didn’t just come home and they’re not going to get all of us sick?’,” Douglass said.
During one 20 minute shopping trip to her local grocery store she said there was at least five incidents.
“Someone just followed me around and eventually I just felt so uncomfortable I just took what I had, I went and quickly paid for it and left,” she said.
Just last week, she said a customer asked a grocery store employee to follow behind her and wipe down everything she touched.
Douglass said she’s now too afraid to grocery shop, get gas, sometimes even leave the house without someone with her.
“It really made me search inside myself and ask a lot of questions about identity because I’ve always identified as Canadian, and I’ve never had any fears and all of a sudden it’s scary to go anywhere,” she said.
The 25-year-old was born in Russia. She was adopted by a Canadian couple and has lived in Alberta since she was a child.
“When people tell me to go home it feels like a weird thing because I’ve never even been to China,” said Douglass.
“The virus doesn’t pick a race. It picks just, unfortunately, people and we should all be supporting one another,” she said.
On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had a similar message.
“Hate, violence and discrimination have no place in Canada. This is not who we are as Canadians,” he said.
The head of a group called Act2EndRacism is calling for other leaders to draw attention to the issue, especially as restrictions are lifted.
“Whether it’s in government, in schools, in the education system, in workplaces, to denounce racism so that everyone will have the sense of comfort if something happens to them they can talk to authority,” said Teresa Woo-Paw with Act2EndRacism.
Douglass said she wished she could have stood up for herself at the time of the incidents.
“It comes from such a place in someone that I don’t even know if they would even hear me,” she said.
“I want to know why you think that way or why you’re scared of me. I’m just like you.”