Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Does this look like a lethal weapon?

Apparently, RCMP officers in Vancouver thought it did.

It’s two years today since Robert Dziekanski died at YVR after being Tasered. He’d arrived hours earlier from Poland, but because he didn’t speak English, he wasn’t able to adequately ask for assistance. When he became agitated, the police were called to help deal with him. Then, shortly after their arrival, Dziekanski was dead. It seems police had reacted to Dziekanski's picking up a stapler and waving it in their direction.

Fortunately, this is a digital age, and Paul Pritchard recorded what he witnessed.

So, what’s the lesson here? It might be, don’t travel to Vancouver if you don’t speak English.

And if that’s the case, that might mean you better not come to the Olympics.

Outside of Vancouver’s Punjabi Market or areas of Richmond, there’s not a lot of evidence of multilingual signage.

To give the airport some credit, they’ve established an information booth near Customs and it offers services in a number of languages. I’m not sure though what its hours are, and whether it would have benefited Dziekanski, whose death occurred in the middle of the night.

Canada Line, the rapid transit system that takes visitors from the aiport into the city, doesn’t even have signage in Canada’s second official language, French. So, if your English isn’t very good, maybe you’ll have to hope to find a taxi driver who speaks your language.

Any other lessons to consider on this sad anniversary? Hmm. Maybe, be careful not to pick up a stapler if the RCMP are around.

No comments: