Several people with out-of-province licence plates have received a hostile reception in Port Alberni during the COVID-19 pandemic. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

Dual Canadian-U.S. citizens face hostile reception on Vancouver Island

People asked to report suspicious licence plates to Canada Border Services Agency

Some out-of-province people are feeling nervous about the hostile reception they’ve received in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island.

As COVID-19 cases rise in the United States, some British Columbians are worried about out-of-province travellers bringing the virus with them. Health officials in B.C. say that the Canada-U.S. border is expected to remain closed to non-essential travel until at least late August.

But one young woman staying in Port Alberni, a dual Canada and U.S. citizen, says she has had people harassing her and compromising her privacy on social media due to her U.S. licence plates. She has requested to remain anonymous, as RCMP have asked her not to give out any personal details for her safety.

She moved to Port Alberni in mid-May to help out a cousin, but has been in Canada since last summer, staying with family as she goes through the process of a painful divorce. Her car, which still had U.S. plates, was parked in Port Alberni for about a month as she was in the process of having it junked. She became worried when she noticed multiple people taking pictures of the car.

She has since gotten rid of her car, but is still worried because photos of her have been circulating on Facebook.

“I called the RCMP, and they told me [my car] had been reported several times,” she said. “They had already checked with the border crossing and confirmed that I had been in Canada since before COVID hit.”

The RCMP also warned her to “be safe” and keep her phone on her at all times.

“This put me on high alert,” she said.

She said she was surprised by the unwelcome reception from her home country.

“I thought coming back to Canada would be like the hug I needed,” she said. “My original plan was to stay here for a little while and then move back to the States.”

Then COVID-19 hit, and she is now stuck as the Canada-U.S. borders remain closed.

“I’m immuno-compromised myself, so COVID is very scary for me,” she said. “I didn’t expect the animosity. I don’t believe all U.S. licence plates are tied to ‘evil Americans’ who are here to spread the virus. I think a lot of people are in the same situation I’m in. I don’t think it helps when people are being unkind to each other right now.”

She is not the only one who feels unsafe in Port Alberni. Another woman with U.S. licence plates says she has been confronted at multiple locations in town, including gas stations and the Quality Foods parking lot. She is a Canadian citizen and U.S. resident who moved to Port Alberni temporarily in March to take care of her ailing grandmother.

“I actually found a note on my truck saying the cops have my licence number,” she said. “Once while I was driving with my grandmother, somebody flipped us the bird. It’s gotten to the point where I get nervous when I get in the car every day.”

With the borders closed, she doesn’t know how much longer she will be in Canada, but says she is starting to fear for her safety.

“I wish people would be a little bit nicer,” she said. “It’s not like people don’t have a right to be here just because they don’t have B.C. plates.”

Port Alberni city councillor Cindy Solda expressed her concern for some of the “plate-hate” during a meeting of council on Monday, July 13. She explained that she met a family from Alberta that was visiting Port Alberni with the intention of moving to the community.

“These people were looking at houses,” she explained. “In the meantime, the neighbours are taking pictures of their licence plates. It turned [them] off moving to the community. I understand we’re all scared of COVID,” she added. “But we need to have more communication and there’s more reasons why people are in the community.”

READ MORE: B.C. man with Alberta plates gets car keyed and aggressive note

Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions pointed out during the meeting that travel between provinces is currently allowed.

“I know there’s been a lot of concern about the United States licence plates that people are seeing, and I would encourage people to follow proper process,” she said. “It’s not our issue to go out and solve on our own.”

Even B.C.’s top doctor, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said during a press briefing earlier this month that British Columbians need to “take a step back” and realize they may not know why people with out-of-province, or even U.S., licence plates are here. There are numerous reasons American travellers may be in Canada, including work requirements and dual nationality.

If you are concerned about a traveller in the Alberni Valley, report it to the Canada Border Services Agency’s reporting line at 1-888-502-9060 and pass on the licence plate number and where you saw them.

If the CBSA has concerns, the RCMP in the area will be tasked to check on the visitor.



elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey councillors wary of ‘streamlining’ environmental development permits process

Mayor Doug McCallum notes B.C. government only agency that can issue environment permit

Oh baby, what a birthday gift: $2.8M raised to help Surrey boy with rare disease

‘We are very thankful to everybody,’ Aryan Deol’s father says

City buys century-old East Delta church

St. Stephen’s Church to be renovated and restored, used as community services and programming space

COVID-19 exposure at Surrey rave prompts warning from Fraser Health

Party was held at Royal Beauty Supply in Whalley

Man charged with manslaughter in Surrey woman’s death

Duncan Ryan McCabe, 47, is charged with manslaughter in June 2, 2020 death of Karlee May Dixon, 40, of Surrey

B.C. records 30-50 new COVID-19 cases a day over weekend, no new deaths

Many of those testing positive were identified by contact tracing for being linked to other confirmed infections

Five B.C. First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

Salmon arrive in larger numbers at Big Bar landslide

Arrival follows historic hihg-water levels that halted migration runs

Rent-relief program becomes new front in fight between Liberals, opposition

Opposition trying to draw parallels between decision to have Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. run program and the WE controversy

Ottawa sets minimum unemployment rate at 13.1% for EI calculation

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July

$45K in donations received after couple’s sudden death in Tulameen

Sarah MacDermid, 31, and Casey Bussiere, 37, died August long weekend

Famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer brings movements of joy to Long Beach

Internet-famous dancer is exploring Vancouver Island, visiting the B.C. Legislature and more

Battle of Fairy Creek: blockade launched to save Vancouver Island old-growth

‘Forest Defenders’ occupy road to prevent logging company from reaching Port Renfrew-area watershed

Most Read