EDITORIAL: A welcome and a hostile rant

The day after Summerland welcomed a refugee family, a video of a racist rant circulated online

The day after the Abrha Gebre family, refugees from Eritrea, arrived in Summerland, a video of a racist rant from an Alberta restaurant circulated online.

The family of six from the eastern African country had fled their home and had been living in a refugee camp in Ethiopia.

They, like many others before them, came to Canada seeking a new life and escaping brutal conditions in their home country.

When they arrived, they were greeted by around 50 members of the Summerland Refugee Sponsorship Group.

This is the fourth refugee family to arrive in Summerland in the past three years, and it speaks to the support shown to the refugee families by the community, through financial contributions, volunteer hours and friendship.

It’s a tribute to this community.

That’s why the rant, videotaped late April and posted online last week, is so disturbing.

The woman’s tirade was made in a Denny’s restaurant in Lethbridge, Alta., directed at a man who has lived in Canada for the past 12 years. In the video, she tells the man, “go back to where you came from,” and, “you are not Canadian.”

The tone of the rant is shocking. But the attitudes expressed are not unique. Other incidents of bigotry make the news from time to time. And some will make similar statements in quieter settings.

Some Canadians choose to welcome refugees to this country while others oppose Canada’s immigration policy.

Right now, the members of the Abrha Gebre family are adjusting to a new life in a new country.

Later, when they reflect on their journey to a new home, what will they think?

Will they think of Canadians as the warm, welcoming people who met them at the airport on Tuesday?

Or will they think the comments shown in the videotaped rant are a more accurate reflection of the dominant Canadian attitude?

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