On Oct 25, 2018, Isaac Saney, a black professor at Dalhousie, was boarding a bus with his 4-month-old daughter. A South-Asian couple and child, were also boarding. A white man and woman demanded that they make way for them, as white people. When confronted by passengers that their behaviour was inappropriate, the white man and woman increased their racist abuse.
The driver of the bus eventually stopped the vehicle and demanded that the abusive couple disembark. While leaving, the racists threatened to catch up with Saney, when he left the bus later.
When Saney subsequently alighted at Scotia Square, the abusive couple were there to confront him with further threats and invective. A female fellow bus passenger, concerned about Saney’s safety, had accompanied him off the bus and called the police.
Since then, a woman, Stephanie Rogers, has been charged with criminal harassment, uttering threats, and criminal disturbance. While the charges are welcomed, the Crown is not applying the “hate speech” provisions of the Criminal Code.
Soon after the incident, “Racism-Free Transit in Halifax” (RFT) formed, demanding information on racist incidents on transit, a meeting with Transit and HRM officials, and a campaign for transit as a safe space for diversity. The group also congratulated the bus driver, the passengers and the Good Samaritan woman for their exemplary behavior. Since the Saney incident, others have come forward with harrowing tales of mistreatment on transit. RFT is meeting with Transit and HRM officials on March 5.
Come and hear how this campaign is progressing and how some other cities are dealing with the same issues.