Words Matter

I need to preface this post with the following: this article has been edited by people who have graciously offered their advice. The circumstances do not primarily affect a white, middle-aged male who has been as privileged as I’ve been. I do have an obligation though, to counter hurtful and divisive language that affects our society and those that are harmed from such language.

For this reason, I’ve consulted with those who are, and have been hurt by recent events. I’ve also consulted BIPOC USHR’s recent post located here. I urge you to read it.

Earlier this week, a public Facebook post entitled “Xenophobia has its place” by a prominent Island historian and writer was made. To start, a title like that should not even be uttered or written. There is no place for xenophobia. Period. Full stop.

Unfortunately the article kept going. Within the article, reference was made to “being wary/suspicious of newcomers bearing gifts” as being a survival/coping mechanism. He then went on to equate immigrants (who have to come here through proper immigration channels), to that of European colonizers, who (as history has shown us) committed one of the worst genocides in history.

The article’s assumption that immigrants “who come with suitcases of money in the trunks of their cars” are to be scrutinized, is divisive, damaging and demeaning to BIPOC individuals.

To quote directly from the aforementioned BIPOC article:

Racialized immigrants face immense racism in this country. They/we are humiliated on a daily basis, from having their/our accents, food, and clothing mocked, to being infantilized, to being assumed to be dangerous, to being seen with suspicion. They/we are constantly dehumanized.

So fear based suspicion (xenophobia) for any supposed reason is 100% unequivocally unwarranted, and Island New Democrats stand opposed to these damaging words.

Multiple Indigenous members have attempted to educate in these public posts. As a former educator himself, I for one sincerely hope he connects, and most importantly listens to those of the BIPOC community, to learn and change.

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Jason Alward

Jason Alward

Hailing from Eastern Canada, Jason brings 25 years of visual communication experience to the table. With his early career spent in large corporate agencies working with such clients as Pepsi, Blackberry and Samsung, he soon realized a need for more substantially fulfilling projects. In 2016, he found this rewarding work in his role as art director for one of the largest public service unions in Ontario, providing communications for its 140,000 members.

In 2016, with this grassroots interest, he launched Verge, an agency with the goal of delivering high quality visual communications to individuals and organizations aligned with those same grassroot ideals.

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