'We need true change': Anti-racism group speaking out after graffiti sighting on Newfoundland trail

·2 min read
Graffiti showing racist language and hate symbols was splattered across a gazebo on the Manuels River trail in Conception Bay South. (Submitted by Vincent Estick - image credit)
Graffiti showing racist language and hate symbols was splattered across a gazebo on the Manuels River trail in Conception Bay South. (Submitted by Vincent Estick - image credit)
Submitted by Vincent Estick
Submitted by Vincent Estick

Members of Newfoundland and Labrador's BIPOC community are calling on the province to do better in combatting hate crimes after a gazebo at Manuels River was defiled with racial slurs and symbols.

Vanessa Cardoso Whelan first noticed it during a walk on the Manuels River Trail in Conception Bay South earlier this week. The gazebo is often used as an outdoor classroom for students, but someone drew swastikas and put racial slurs including the n-word across a blackboard and wooden chairs.

"When I saw it I was disgusted with what I was reading," Cardoso Whelan told CBC News Wednesday.

"I felt really concerned, because I have kids that go to school nearby…It's unacceptable, it just can't happen."

Cardoso Whelan photographed the graffiti and brought the photos to the Anti-Racism Coalition of Newfoundland and Labrador. The graffiti was removed a short time later.

A police report of the incident has not been filed, according to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

Submitted by Vincent Estick
Submitted by Vincent Estick

Cardoso Whelan says others she has shown the photo to believe it could just be teenagers being teenagers, but she says that presents a major concern in the community.

"We can do better as a society, and I don't think it's just kids," she said. "I think we have to look at education. It needs to be done about that."

It makes us feel that we are undervalued, unwanted and unsafe. - Vincent Estick

Vincent Estick, the coalition's education subcommittee lead, says support needs to go beyond education and involve the implications and impacts of hate speech.

"We feel as if we're stepping back a few years, because these are issues that from our perspective should have been dealt with a long time ago," Estick said.

Henrike Wilhelm/CBC
Henrike Wilhelm/CBC

"When things like this happen, it weakens us as a community. Especially the BIPOC community, it makes us feel that we are undervalued, unwanted and unsafe."

Estick says hate crimes are on the rise across Canada, including in Newfoundland and Labrador. The majority of reported hate crimes in the country are ethnically motivated, he said.

He says more needs to be done when it comes to helping people in the community report hate crimes, saying this type of incident can't become commonplace.

"We need true change, change that goes beyond a change of government, a change of seat, a change of minister. I think it's coming, I hope that it is, and I hope that the leaders see how this is really damaging the culture, the foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador," he said.

"We need a true partner in this fight. Strides have been made, but not enough is being done. And we need to do better."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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