Surrey family suspects racial discrimination after being kicked out of RV park
VANCOUVER -- A Surrey family with mixed-race children is speaking out after they were kicked out of a Penticton RV park and told they are never welcome to return.
In late August, Andrea Klaver’s family joined two others, who also have mixed race children, for a week at Wright’s Beach Camp on the shores of Skaha Lake.
“It was meant to be an end-of-summer wrap up party, or camping trip,” Klaver said in an interview with CTV News.
The first day of the trip, the family was given a warning for playing music too loudly.
Klaver said after that happened the group put away their sound system and used a small bluetooth speaker for the remainder of the trip.
Over subsequent days, the family received a number of other warnings about noise from music and also talking too loudly.
She said other groups, on either side of their site, who they had become friends with, were frequently louder and were never warned about it.
It came to a head on the fifth day of their seven-day trip when a campground employee approached their site around 8 a.m. and told them they had to pack up and leave and if they didn’t comply the police would be called.
“And we were the only family singled out on the row of the beach. It seems peculiar,” Klaver said. “I can’t explain it other than the fact in my opinion it was racially motivated.”
Klaver said people from nearby sites tried to speak up on behalf of her group, but the staff at the campground refused to listen to them.
Management at Wright’s Beach Camp denies the group was targeted due to race.
“Discrimination of any kind is against our policies both professionally and personally. We at Wright’s Beach Camp do our best to promote a positive experience for all of our guests and to ensure rules and/or enforcement thereof are communicated clearly, proactively and equally,” said manager Paul Lionello.
He went on to say another group had also been evicted the same week and that a number of other sites had also received noise warnings.
In this case, the two sides disagree on whether race was a factor, but UBC associate professor of psychology Andrew Baron says it provides an example of why we all need to consider our unconscious bias.
“Everyone has unconscious bias. Basically, it’s this idea that you have these automatic thoughts and feelings, and when you think of something, it either primes this positive or negative feeling,” Baron said.
He added the only way to challenge such preconceived ideas is through self-reflection and education about people's differences.
“Some of the younger children kept asking why did we get kicked out? Why were we told to leave?” Klaver said.
She and the other parents discussed the experience with the children involved.
“I was really sad while we were packing because we were singled out,” said 12-year-old Kadiri Penniston, one of the children in the group. “And to believe that someone doesn’t like you for your skin colour and not your personality is just really sad for me.”