Keeping Ourselves Safe

January Op-Ed for Bridge River Lillooet News

A friend had a frightening encounter last summer while walking with her dog on the road near the Old Bridge. Two men in a white BMW SUV drove up alongside and kept pace with her steps. The driver acted friendly and told her she was beautiful. The other guy stared straight ahead and didn’t speak; he looked at her only once and it was with hatred in his eyes. She recalled afterward that she thought to herself, What’s his problem?

The driver asked if she had a boyfriend. He asked if she’d get in the vehicle and help with directions. She knew she was in trouble. Steep terrain on both sides, no safe escape. Luckily, a pick-up truck came along and she stepped into the road, forcing it to stop. Then the white SUV took off.

Both men were black-skinned, clean cut, well-built, and wore Polo shirts. Both had close-cropped hair, had no facial hair, and their faces were round. She said she held back from reporting because she’d have to describe the men as black-skinned—she didn’t want to appear racist.

Then someone told her that in 2015 Crime Stoppers published a notice about two black men who tried, unsuccessfully, to pull a young woman into their vehicle (also a white SUV) when she was walking near Capilano Road in North Vancouver. Then my friend contacted Lillooet’s RCMP.

Two months ago in Fort McMurray, the news reported that two black men tried to abduct a woman out walking at night. The woman fought them off. Their vehicle was described as light-coloured and high-end.

My friend received no follow-up from the Lillooet RCMP. When she heard about Fort Mac she contacted the RCMP there, left details about her encounter, and was told an officer would get back to her. Again, no follow up.

My point is not to criticize but rather point out that predators are exploiting several things: a geography which allows them to troll widely for victims and quickly disappear on highway networks; a chronic deficit of policing resources; and unsuspecting people who trust too much or feel compelled to be polite to strangers.

According to Global Research, right now the slave trade operates in 163 countries—including Canada—and brings in at least $38 billion annually. Only guns and drugs are more lucrative. The slave trade is well developed, with supply lines and established smuggling routes across international borders.

Whether it’s men working in pairs, or snatchers cruising our neighbourhoods looking for children, it’s open season on men, women and children. We don’t like to think about this because too much fear isn’t healthy—but too little caution can be worse. We need to wise up and become more aware and more proactive.

Utilizing social media, such as a Facebook page, could be a good way for people to post details of frightening encounters, alert others, compare notes, and educate. Maybe such a site would also assist police agencies in building profiles and making connections between attacks.

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