While this may not be my earliest memory of noticing that people having different skin color, it is the most vivid memory of why people are treated differently because of skin color.
Between four to five years ago I started working at my first and still current job at a grocery store in Prince Albert (transferred to Regina). While working there I met a lot of interesting people, many of which came from various ethnic backgrounds. Everything was going quite well and I got along with many people, however, I noticed something that my other co-workers did quite frequently. Whenever we had First Nations people who came in alone and were usually considered older teens or younger adults, one of my co-workers would follow them. The reason why it was odd was that it only happened to the First Nations people who came in. This would happen on a regular basis, multiple times per shift and I didn’t know why. I finally decided to ask one day. What they told me was that First Nations people were usually the people who were shoplifting from the store. I thought that was ridiculous but as time went on working there I noticed it more and more frequently…
Months had gone by and we had many shoplifting incidents involving First Nations people. There were instances to where White people would steal from the store as well, however, after it was dealt with my co-workers would just carry on.Unlike after catching a First Nations person they would go on and on with many racial remarks. Dealing with my co-workers consistently you begin to form a bias against First Nations people and just assume that they are going to steal. Sadly, I began to feel this way as well since you are stuck in an environment where such thoughts and feelings are shared among everyone (I no longer do).
After working there for years and becoming better educated in multicultural views I realized that I was blinded by bias. Prince Albert is a city that has a fairly high crime rate and large First Nations population so it was easy to join those together based on what other people tell you. As the years went on I found that the situation got better with less following and remarks being made toward First Nations people from the staff. However, I do realize that this is still a major issue in society, but I am glad to say that my view and some of the people around me have changed the way they view certain people who come through our stores doors. While it’s a small group of people it has to start somewhere.