BY SEAN MCGIVERN
I was dismayed to read the recent opinion article by Richard Deaton who felt he could use The Guardian to spew his outlandish opinions of Tignish and the rural dwellers who call it home.
I may not have the formal education that Mr. Deaton has acquired; I am not a PhD or an LLB. I didn’t teach at any colleges. My grammar lacks and my spelling is passable at best. However, I am a person who believes in fairness for all. I have spent most of my life as a farmer, an advocate for rural rights, a volunteer and as someone who likes to be engaged and active in local community life.
Mr. Deaton wants to call this recent situation a “racist incident.” He says there is simmering anger, hypocrisy and that what happened at the legion represents the “soft and ugly underbelly of Island values.” He says immigrants do something that the locals have forgotten to do: “they work hard to get ahead.”
I would guess Mr. Deaton hasn’t been to a community like Tignish or he would see firsthand we have a thriving community, every restaurant in town is bustling, the Co-op grocery is filled with shoppers, people are busy building lobster traps, farmers are busy, the seniors’ homes are active, the gas stations are busy pumping fuel, mostly by local young energetic youth. Service clubs and sporting teams always have something going on.
The Tignish area is also home to many full time and part time people from the Philippines and Mexico, who work right alongside the local people, and they are always well received. They seem to fit in rather well, they shop locally, attend church services, are buying homes and marrying local people, and are always spoken very highly of by their co-workers, landlords and new friends in the community.
The Tignish that Deaton speaks of is foreign to me. I am not familiar with this den of evil that he wishes to portray. I came to Tignish six months ago as a new resident from outside of P.E.I. and was welcomed with kindness by every person I have encountered along the way. Tignish is a community not unlike most rural communities, where people are welcoming but cautious as they should be of new comers, but if you put forth an effort, Tignishers will go the extra mile to befriend you and make you feel a part of a wonderful, kind and generous community.
Mr. Deaton, remember that the legion staff did not question this man’s race or his faith - they simply asked him to take off something that didn’t look like a religious head garment. One can easily see how this type of incident could have occurred. When someone comes up to the bar, orders a beer and has a very uncommon head covering on - and at a legion, which has a no-hat policy out of respect for veterans - I can see how this situation likely unfolded. From what I know he didn’t tell them that this was a religious garment and knowing many of the staff, they would not have an issue with him.
To place the blame on one organization is shameful and irresponsible on your part. Your rant does not give us any solutions or ways to ensure all people feel included in our society. You missed your opportunity to bring people together - regardless of their, race, faith or gender.
When you go public as a person who wants to be portrayed as one of sound mind, you then have a responsibility to be constructive and to seek a better path forward. You chose not to do that. Perhaps you missed that day when your professor explained to the class the value in building people up rather than trying to tear them down.
On this topic Mr. Deaton, you get a failing grade.
- Sean McGivern is a Tignish resident who moved to the area six months ago.