August 27, 2011

Welcome To Canada - One Fan's Ill-Fated Trip North Of The Border

This is an article I am sharing that is written by a colleague at The Liberal Dead. Am sure you will agree, after reading it, that something was definitely awry. Now, I don't know how trips to Canada work with a US passport, but I am planning on driving up to Toronto next year on my UK passport. As you may or may not know Canada is part of the UK Commonwealth so I am going on the assumption I won't have the problems Ted had. That's beside the point though, it shouldn't have happened and I am truly sorry that he got fucked over out of his money and time, not to mention pissing him right off. Anyhoo, here's the article in full.

Discrimination At The Windsor Ontario Boarder

As many of you know for the last six months I have worked extra hard in anticipation of attending FanExpo in Toronto Canada for the first time. Now let me inform all of you why I am not currently there but instead sitting here writing this article after giving myself a couple days to recover from the worse 72hrs of my life.
My trip to Canada started bright err dark and early 3AM in the morning last Tuesday morning as I boarded a bus and began my fourteen hour trek to the border. After an insanely log bus ride and a three hour layover in Detroit it was time for me to cross the boarder in Windsor Ontario and fulfill a childhood dream to attend Rue Morgue’s Festival of Fear within Canada’s FanExpo convention.
I waited in line patiently as everyone on my bus quickly and smoothly made their way through customs and re boarded our bus. Then came my turn where right away I got the feeling something was different about my experience as every time I would answer the woman’s questions she would respond with a sarcastic sounding mmhmm in a very unbelieving tone. She asked why I was coming to Canada and for how long and I told her I was there to cover FanExpo as a freelance writer for some of my employers and to spend sometime seeing London and Toronto with a friend. She asked if I had ever been to the country before and I told her no it was my first time and once again was given her sarcastic mmhmm. Next thing I know she demands the bus driver retrieves my checked luggage and for me to place my carryon luggage onto a table where it could be hand searched because apparently my continued cooperation must have been suspicious.
The woman has a different man go through my things which are nothing more than some changes of clothing and misc. writing and make up related items that I needed for FanExpo, a factor that should have been more than enough to confirm I was in fact there to cover a convention. After my bags checked as clear, I thought this ordeal was over but I could not have been more wrong.
Next, the woman took me into a private room where she started to grill me like I was a convicted serial killer with a mountain of warrants. She continued to ask me for items that displayed my address that was featured on my passport; I managed to come up with four different items at this point proving that I did in fact have a home in Kentucky. Each time I provided an item she would give me her trademark snarky mmhmm then go on to tell me how she simply put has concerns. There I was with a 100% legit passport, return tickets in my possession, and endless items in my wallet sharing the exact same address, and yet she still felt I was there to slip into Canada never to return. Apparently my government issued pieces of proof were not enough but she seemed to believe if I happen to have a piece of mail from Kentucky that would be good enough because so many people travel across country with mail in their possession. I’d love to know how government created items are less believable then a envelope with my address written on it and it was this point that it dawned on me that I was being unfairly targeted by this woman. In her own words she basically informed me that she did not believe that I had a home or that I was here on work related business and due to my possession as a freelance writer who claimed to be living at home with his parents that I must have been trying to sneak into Canada to start a new life with 900$ US and no way to even obtain a job in Canada since you have to have proof you are able to legally do so, and my trusty four to five outfits worth of clothing.
After arguing with her for a while she left the room and then came back claiming to have a copy of my permanent record as she asked if I had ever been arrested. I said yes I have been charged with mistermeaner possession of marijuana before when I was much younger once again followed by mmhmm as she tried to claim it occurred in 2007 in Frankfort Kentucky where I had told her it happened in Ashland in around 2004, which is correct. Therefore, she told me I was lying about my charges even though I have not been to Frankfort since I was in Jr High. She would not allow me too see her magical paper of misinformation and used this as her “final straw” where she informed me that if I wanted to attend my convention I would have to ride a bus fourteen hours back to Kentucky where I would have to obtain a letter from my local police conforming my story, a piece of mail with my address and name on it because my government hard to fake issued IDs were not good enough, and I would need a letter from my employer saying I in fact had a job along with paystubs and then climb on for another fourteen hour ride to get back. The convention I was covering started the next day and was over with on Sunday and she knew that most of what she wanted would take a week or two to be able to get a hold of.
Its at this point she informed me that she was going to put me on a cab and send me back to Detroit. I asked her many times, where exactly she was going to drop me off and if there is anyway I could have the info she wanted faxed to her. She answered me by saying it was none of her concern where I was dropped off or if I would be able to have anything faxed in refusing to tell me one way or another. I have no clue what this woman’s issue was with me or why she choose me out of the group to harass but it was very clear she was not going to take any chances in me being able to get what she wanted in time to still make the convention. It was to the point where I even noticed other officers giving her strange looks as she continued to unfairly judge me and make things complicated for me.
When all was said and done she loaded me into a cab that dropped me back off in Detroit with no means to return to Kentucky. I had a wallet full of cash and arms full of luggage in one of the most dangerous cities in America. Luckily, I managed to find a reasonably priced motel near by where I got a room and waited as my parents drove up from Kentucky to pick me up.
I don’t know if it was my clothes, my tattoos, or just this crazy woman trying toss her power around but I do feel that I was not allowed to pass the boarder solely based on discrimination. Me and one other person on my bus were removed but to be fair the other person who was not dealt with by the woman who I was so lucky to get as my officer was authentically trying to sneak into Canada. There was no reason to see me as a threat or to even take things to the degree of searching me and interrogating me.
Let this be a warning to all writers, artists, etc. out there who do not have the luxury of fame and fortune if you have to cross into Canada by all means do not cross in Windsor and if you do cross your fingers that you do not get stuck with the blonde, middle-aged, woman that I got stuck with because if she does not like the way you look she will do everything in her power to ensure that you do not continue your journey. Thanks to this woman I lost over 800$ in non-refundable tickets and reservations on top not being able to do the job that I came to do.


SheReads said...

As a registered, card carrying member of the Mohawk Nation I can assure you that the Canadian Gov't is all kinds of fucked up when it comes to border crossing. A relative of mine was beaten and held captive when attempting to cross the border to visit relatives on the other side, WHICH btw, is part of the sovereign NATION. Mohawks have a treaty and the law clearly states that Mohawks have special permission to cross the border back and forth, but it didn't stop officials from breaking that law. What's further sad, is she was in her 70's when it happened! Can you imagine beating up an old lady? Ridiculous!

Mary Kirkland said...

Wow, that's completely outrageous.