Hope resident Mike Wilson said he faced prejudice and discrimination at the Chilliwack Library, as security guards told him to leave and followed him out Friday, Nov. 2. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard

Accidental victims

What happens when the authorities think you’re homeless and you’re not?

Mike Wilson is the unintended consequence of the homeless situation in Chilliwack.

The soft-spoken 66-year-old was recently escorted out of the Chilliwack Library by three security guards.

A few days later he’s still not entirely sure why.

He was told his small, wheeled suitcase and heavy jacket were excessive; that they presented a hazard.

But Wilson feels it might have been because he is Indigenous.

He had gone to the library, like he’s done many times before, as he waited for the transit bus back to Hope where he lives. He had done some shopping, picked up his coat from the dry cleaner, and was reading his tablet when he was asked to leave.

Days later, sitting in the lobby of the Chilliwack Progress, Wilson is still upset by the incident. He holds a lengthy letter he had written, single-spaced, neatly printed, in a notebook he carries in his pack.

He had already spoken to the editor of the Hope Standard, but still wanted to share his thoughts about an injustice he was sure had been done.

Read More: Hope man says he faced racial discrimination from security guards at Chilliwack Library

He said he understands the situation around the downtown library.

But Wilson felt he had been unfairly painted with the broad brush of bias; that he had been profiled because of the way he looked.

And the feeling stung.

In a response to The Standard, the library said that was never the intention, which is likely true.

But as our parks and doorways fill with people injecting drugs, or smoking crack, there is bound to be collateral damage.

Indeed, as the homeless situation in Chilliwack has worsened, the library and surrounding park is often Ground Zero. Security is routinely called upon to move people along. If that fails, RCMP are asked to intervene.

Anybody who works downtown, and witnesses the shattered lives or cleans up the mess left behind, knows this reality.

That doesn’t make what happened to Mike Wilson right.

In fact, that it has come to this makes it that much worse.

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