Many people talk about the small-town way of life and small-town hospitality cheerfully, especially in Saskatchewan – but that hospitality has quickly soured for one family in the village of Mankota as their home was vandalized with racial slurs.
Since Thursday, the small blue home the family owns in the village has sat on its quiet street, next to the local care home, marred with large black boxes covering up graffiti on all sides.
Things like “ISIS”, “bomb maker”, and “white people only” were painted on the home, along with racial slurs.
Samantha Mather lives across the street from the home and is friends with the family – she called the vandalism a hate crime.
“They have no reason to not like the people, they’re great people. They have four beautiful kids that are intelligent and polite, and they’ve never done anything to the community to deserve any of the things that have happened to them,” said Mather.
She said the wife in the family is French and the husband was born in Afghanistan, but has been in Canada for over 25 years. Mather said, as far as she knows, they’re the first Muslim family to live in the community.
Mather explained the family moved to Mankota two years ago, thinking they’d be able to have a nice life there. At first, people were polite to the family, waving and making nice as people often do in small towns – but soon, Mather said things went downhill.
Before the family bought the property, some used it to get to the parking lot of the care home next door. In February the home put up a fence to stop people using the property that way, and Mather said that night someone knocked the fence down and broke into the family’s home while they were sleeping. According to Mather, a person has been charged and the case is making its way through the courts.
“They can’t believe that that’s the way that they’re treated in the community,” said Mather after speaking to the family. “They didn’t put it past, you know after their home invasion, and rumours around town that have been said about them and stuff – they weren’t really shocked that it happened, but they’re definitely really hurt.”
At the moment the family is living in Alberta, having moved there for work. Mather said they still own the home and the plan was to move back eventually, but now they don’t know whether that will happen.
“I can’t believe that somebody could do that to an innocent family, and especially a family with children … they have four children that know how to read. Now they have to come home and see black boxes all over their house.”
Mather said the village is shocked at what happened, and she’s ashamed someone in her community could do that.
“This isn’t something that we ever expected from anyone in our community.”
Shortly after it was discovered, people in the community came together to help. Mather said they painted over the graffiti on the home and helped wash the paint off of a vehicle on the property. She has started a GoFundMe page to raise money to help re-paint the home for the family, who don’t have insurance.
Mankota is 150 kilometres southeast of Swift Current, less than 100 kilometres from the U.S. border.