Coquitlam women told to 'go back to where you came from' while in B.C. park
VANCOUVER -- Warning: This article contains language some readers may find offensive.
Two young B.C. women say they were accosted by a stranger who told them to "go back to where you came from" in a heated exchange that was caught on camera.
Elika Gholizadeh and her friend were eating berries off a torn branch at a popular Metro Vancouver park on Sunday, when a woman scolded them for picking the fruits.
It is against park guidelines to disturb vegetation at Minnekhada Regional Park, but Gholizadeh said it was apparent they were approached because of how they looked.
"I did think at first it was about the branch, but when she said, 'You should go back to where you came from,' I realized it wasn't about the branch," Gholizadeh told CTV News.
In the video, a woman is seen mocking the friends, and can be heard calling the pair "twits."
When they told her to "mind your own business," the woman lashed out, saying, "That is the rudest fucking thing you've said to me so far. Why don't you go back to where you came from if you want to use words like that?"
In response, the friends called the woman a "colonizer" and asked where she came from.
The woman said she is from the United States but is Canadian.
Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart saw the video and said he felt outraged by it.
"People need to understand that that attitude of the comment, 'Go back to where you came from,' is never acceptable," he said. "It's never acceptable unless you're speaking to a racist from the United States and asking her to, perhaps, take her attitude back to where she came from."
Stewart said it's important for people to call out racist behaviour when they see it.
"I think we really need to, everyone, check our own privilege and look at ourselves, and really examine, 'What is it that makes me think when I look at that person that person has less right to be here?'"
Gholizadeh said if the woman wanted to inform them that picking the branch was against park guidelines, she could've said it in a kinder way.
"People shouldn't be able to talk to people that way and treat people that way for something like the colour of their skin," she said. "Especially in light of everything going on, you should be more conscious in the things that you're saying. You should take time to educate yourself, educate others."