Late August 2017 Lethbridge, Alberta, a perfect morning to watch the Whoop Up Days parade. We settled curbside, seated among families, senior care home residents and a smattering of tourists.Very much a regional celebration, sprinkled with local politicians,dance academies, beauty schools, financial institutions and community services. Local children came prepared for handfuls of candy along the route, loot bag bulges rivaled Halloween.
Along came a multicultural community group – dark skinned children carrying baskets of wrapped candy, beaming generous delight at outstretched hands. The family seated next to us let their children accept multicultural candy, then it got weird. The rising voice of Mom sent chills through an otherwise perfect morning. She meant business, Mom didn’t have to snarl twice – “get over here right now!” – plucked her children from innocence to realities of hand sanitizer brandished with alarming urgency. Rabid purpose dispatched healthy dollops into outstretched hands.
Caught in my stare, Mom blithered half hearted platitudes – “the street is dirty, don’t want them to get sick”. Speechless, I turned away. Refusing to look back when snippets of insane jibber-jabber revealed Mom’s overwhelming need to explain hand sanitizer for strangers on the other side.
This Canadian is grateful for hand sanitizer parade morning. As Canadians we possess an infinite capacity to finger Trump’s America, oblivious or politely indifferent to reality of racism in our back yard. I saw beautiful children full of hope and promise, hand sanitizer Mom saw dirty, inferior children who posed a risk to her family. As Canadians, regardless of faith, demographic or political affiliation, we have to stop hand sanitizing Moms. Next time I won’t look away.