‘MY GRANDMA WAS ATTACKED’
Pembroke senior assaulted for being Asian
On Aug. 20, some time between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., my 80-year-old grandmother Thi Nga Doan was physically and verbally assaulted by a group of teenagers at our family home in Pembroke.
She suffered bruising on her left cheek and a swollen eye.
A group of five teenagers came to our home and started aggressively banging on the front door. My grandma was the only one home. She didn’t realize someone was at the door because the dog was barking, and usually when he does, it means he wants to go out. So she leashed him up and opened the door. When she did, she saw a group of teen boys.
My grandmother doesn’t speak English, but she could make out curse words:
“F--k. F--k. F--k.”
By the conviction and harshness of the words, she could tell nothing they were saying was good. You can tell when words are filled with hate, even if you don’t understand exactly what they mean. If you’ve never experienced this, you should thank the stars.
The teens began to throw eggs at the house, which was bad enough. But the part that makes me the most upset is when one of the teens, probably no more than 15 to 17 years old, threw a stone which hit my grandmother’s left cheekbone, bruising her eye and rendering her blind for a few hours. She stumbled back into the house.
“Help me. Somebody help me,” she said in broken English, hoping the neighbours would be able to hear her.
She called everyone. She called my mother, my sister, her brother, my other sister. Until my mom picked up and told my brother, who told my sister, who told me.
At 10:30 p.m., my older sister, her fiancé, my brother, and I drove down to Pembroke. We stayed until 4 a.m. speaking to the police and taking my grandmother to the hospital.
This week, an Ontario Provincial Police officer called me and confirmed that the neighbours had heard someone saying racial slurs at my grandmother.
Since the incident, the teens have returned twice. Once to egg the house again, and another to bang on the door.
This has been the most extreme case of racism and discrimination our family has been subjected to, but it is not the first.
For many Asian-Canadians, this is their reality. We are constantly subjected to slurs, microaggressions and physical violence. This needs to stop.
It’s shocking that a town that marches for Black Lives Matter still breeds hate toward people of colour. As one of the only Asian families in Pembroke, growing up we were looked down upon. I specifically remember an incident regarding a friend’s parent, who said to my friend, “Cindy has nothing, look at her family. If she can be successful, so can you.”
It was like a backhanded comment towards me and my family. We aren’t wealthy by any means, but my mother put herself through college while working two part-time jobs so we always had food, our own house and could participate in extracurricular activities. My grandma made sure of this. She would always make sure we were in bed on time when my mom was at work or college late, always made sure we had homecooked meals, and did her best to keep us happy.
We are not ashamed of our heritage nor does my grandmother bother anyone with her way of life. She goes to St-Jean-Baptiste for church whenever she can and comes home to tend to the house and garden. It is a peaceful and gentle way of life.
My grandmother does not wish to harm these boys’ future in any way. Her only hope is that they see they were in the wrong and choose to be better. To be better is to do better.
Cindy Tran is a first year Master’s of Journalism candidate at Carleton University who hopes to pursue a career in advocacy journalism, specifically for marginalized communities worldwide.