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Aug. 7, 2020 | Friday
Editorials and Opinions
Letter: Rudeness, COVID and who really is local?

Dear Lady at Ryerson Park with the cute dog:

I saw you walking toward me. In fact I couldn’t help but notice your cute dog. 

My daughter and my niece were with me. We had just enjoyed a wonderful evening watching the sunset at Ryerson Park

I was raised to respect my elders. I always move out of an elder's path first when I take my morning walks. And my daughter and niece are polite and courteous, especially when it comes to seniors. 

We were being mindful of the distance between us. So when you yelled: “Keep your distance" I was shocked as I was already moving away from you, and there was already six feet of distance between us. 

I could see in your face that you were uneasy. There were a lot of people at the park enjoying the sunset, perhaps too many for your liking. 

I definitely could hear your uneasiness in your voice, coupled with disdain.

Of course, one could argue that these are all assumptions I made based on how I experienced you. But something did not feel right. 

It was obvious you were not happy that I was walking toward you, to my car, which separated us, or else you would not have yelled out, “Keep your distance.”

I would like you to know that your comment felt jarring. It felt awkward being called out that way, shaming in fact, especially when I was being mindful and not breaking the six-foot rule.

For all I know you could be carrying the virus — right?  I’m just as apprehensive as you are. I have a weakened immune system so I make sure I stand far away. I never expect others to keep distance, the onus on protecting myself is my responsibility. 

I chose to share this incident on social media because when we were in the car heading home we all had an eerie, uneasy feeling —awkward, we kept questioning why you would yell over to us, when we were not even close to you. 

Isn’t feeling awkward a weird response to what you did? Were we being discriminated against? It sure felt that way. 

I hope one day I see you again and express to you in person how hurtful your comment was. 

It’s not in my character to stay silent especially when I sense discrimination – even when I’ve been warned by many caring neighbours who have recently moved here that it’s best to not express one’s opinion if you're coming from Toronto.  

I looked at you with empathy. You are a senior, we are all under a lot of stress lately. 

So I bit my tongue and proceeded to get into my car, while mumbling under my breath (what just happened, along with a few other words I’ll keep to myself).

For me your comment exemplified the undercurrent that is present here in our town— newcomers are generally not welcomed — it’s been my experience.

I’m tired of hearing that even after 24 years one is still not considered a local. Who decides when one is a local? And why is that even a conversation? 

By the way, I consider myself and my family to be local. We live here and pay our taxes like everyone else. 

We are all human beings living in a beautiful place— one which I totally respect and care for— one we waited over 30 years to get to. 

So to y’all who are uncomfortable with newcomers moving here I make no apologies. 

We are here to stay. 


Filomena Pisano