- Vandals covered a downtown Montreal STM bus stop sign with a racist message targeting Indigenous people.
- The STM dispatched someone to remove the sign when it came to their attention but it had disappeared by the time the employee arrived.
A horrifyingly racist image has recently been shared on Twitter, highlighting yet again how far we have to go before we eradicate racism in our city, province, and country. The image shows a Montreal STM bus stop with one of the oft-seen red plastic coverings hanging over the bus stop sign, indicating that there are changes to the original stop.
This article contains graphic content that might not be suitable for some readers, including a racial slur targeting Indigenous people.
However, in place of the normal placard explaining the reason for the changes, what routes are impacted, etc., someone had created their own sign, on a brown piece of cardboard.
On the cardboard, in black permanent marker, was the following:
"ARRÊT 55, reculé de 100 pieds !! INDIANS IN THE ZONE!"
The tweet below shows the photo, which was clearly created with some care, as a red permanent marker was also used to create very straight lines to write within. The vandal also took the time to re-copy the bus stop code for those wanting to check in on the bus's arrival.
Translation: I am sometimes told, "But there is no racism against Indigenous people in Montreal." Well, here it is. According to the information, this poster would not have been put there by the STM. Corner of Sherbrooke and St-Urbain yesterday.
The STM was quick to respond, assuring Picard that the image had been brought to their attention and had since been removed.
We spoke with STM public affairs officer Philippe Déry, who let us know that the Bus Operational Centre was quickly informed and promptly dispatched someone to remove the sign, "given the inappropriate content of the poster."
However, when the employee arrived, the sign was "nowhere to be found."
With an incident like this, it's hard not to feel like we're going one step forward, only to take two steps back.
In Montreal this week, rue Amherst was officially re-named Atateken, in a reconciliatory effort. Amherst was infamous for his biological warfare against Indigenous populations.
Atateken means "brothers and sisters" in the kanien'kéha language and serves as a reminder that we are meant to live together in peace.
This act reminds us that living in peace means being constantly aware of the systematic and sometimes violent racism that Indigenous communities still face daily...even while just trying to catch the bus.
The STM has concluded that this incident was "either a misdemeanour or a really bad joke," though neither conclusion really seems to do the injustice justice.