With racial tensions high in the U.S., many Canadians are taking solace in their country’s firm official stance.
But one woman isn’t so sure that extends into the Lower Mainland.
Justine Galo of Burnaby spotted a Confederate flag hanging from a Surrey home last Saturday, the same day that a 20-year-old Ohio man rammed his car into a crowd that was counter-protesting a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va.
“As accepting as we are as a culture, I do find there is a vocal minority of people who feel much the way as white nationalist demonstrators in Charlottesville,” Galo told Black Press in a story published Thursday.
Galo, who used to live in the United States, said the flag touched a nerve.
“It’s a sore spot since I have been a target of a bigot in Georgia and I cannot forget it,” she said. “The root of that [attitude] in Georgia has much to do with the Confederacy. It boils my blood.”
But the woman who lives at the Surrey home where a Confederate flag has been spotted insists the flag isn’t a symbol of racism.
“It’s not raised in any racist way, shape or form,” Kaetlin Lynch said Friday.
Lynch contacted Black Press in response to the initial story posted Thursday about the flag, saying she was upset and angry about it, and that the story made her home a target.
Black Press had tried to contact the owner of the home before publishing the story by calling the phone number listed with the home’s address in the phone book, but the person at that number said he no longer lived there.
Lynch said her boyfriend hung the flag up on Canada Day “because he’s redneck,” and that both of them have researched the meaning of the flag.
“He doesn’t believe in racist crap,” she said. “We’ve read the actual history of the flag and what it actually stands for, and that’s why it’s up there. People need to do their homework, simple as that. Do your homework before you judge that it’s a racist flag [only] because Michelle Obama said it was.”
Galo said the flag – despite being flown on Canadian soil – symbolizes hate she endured while living in the south.
She mentioned a time she said hello to child at a public festival in Altlanta.
“A little Caucasian girl came to me and smiled. I waved back and her mom came and snatched her and muttered, ‘Don’t touch that woman. Asians are dirty.’”
The moment still haunts Galo, more than 20 years later.
“I’ve been called many names in my life, but I’ve never felt made to sound like a plague like I did that day back in 1996,” she said. “Hate is taught.”