Yesterday morning, a little girl was murdered. An innocent life was cut short in an all-too-common incidence of mysogynist violence. It’s a tale as old as time: angry man attempts to solve problems by killing his ex-girlfriend and her child, later he kills himself. The mother survived the attack, the poor little girl did not.
I don’t know the exact details and I’m not even sure of the poor girl’s name. I don’t even really want to know. I don’t have to know for my heart to be breaking for the girl’s mother and everyone close to her.
Social media has been raging.
There was the predictable and appropriate heartfelt messages of grief and disbelief, but there was also a high portion of vitriol directed at the city.
Granted, this city has a lot of problems. There is rampant and extremely visible racism (and all the awfulness that comes with that), there is homelessness, there is poverty, there is violence, there is gang violence, lack of funding for various projects, and of course, murder.
Thunder Bay has a population that surpasses a hundred thousand people. It might not seem like a lot, especially because we are isolated from the greater population of Ontario, but we are considered a big city and we have big city problems.
But, alongside the ugly, we also have beauty: Lake Superior, amazing artists, great restaurants, so many local talents (bands, musicians, artisans, crafters, photographers, etc), adorable little mountains that make BC laugh at us, cute little farm fields that make Saskatchewan guffaw, dozens of public parks, and a growing population of diversity.
I’m a privileged person in this society and I know it. I’m white, I’m working class, and I’m educated. I live in a house with my husband and our children and we rarely go outside our comfort zone into the more “seedy” parts of town.
My past employment has given me insight into many different cultures and classes within our borders and I’ve seen what’s “out there.” Despite this, I feel, from my safe house in a quiet neighbourhood, that I still love my city. That is my truth. Someone whose had a much rougher and violent life could feel hatred for this city and that would be his or her truth.
Having said that, there’s something I’d like to point out: Thunder Bay is not the first city in the world, or Canada, to have problems.
My friend John has given me permission to use his words:
I can’t believe the ignorance of some people in posts that I’ve read today about how awful Thunder Bay is – and how the city is falling apart etc etc… I’ve read nothing but negative commentary about the city and how Thunder Bay is such a terrible place etc etc etc.
If you think that this awful tragedy is a Thunder Bay issue, clearly you don’t have a clue. Crime as a whole, specifically domestic abuse and violent crime is NOT specific to Thunder Bay. If you have cable tv you know that. But to go on and on about how its “typical” Thunder Bay makes me crazy. Have you ever thought for one second that cultural issues, poverty, addictions and any other underlying issue in any of these crimes happen everywhere? Do you honestly believe that this is the worst place in the world to live? If so, you’re clueless. There are people that have it far, far worse than we do every day.
I hate Thunder Bay bashing. Especially from people that do absolutely nothing to change attitudes, lend a hand, or offer sound solutions to help… Even more so today, I hate the fact that people would actually use this tragedy as an excuse to bash the community as a whole. But stop the fear mongering that our city is turning into the most violent place on earth.
One tragedy, like today, does not define our community. None of the awful crimes that have taken place over recent weeks define our community. Hiding behind a keyboard and stepping on a soapbox to preach about how awful “YOU” think our city is doesn’t help anyone. Instead of sharing your uneducated views about cultural issues, domestic issues and crimes as whole, get off your keyboard and lend a hand… Stop making this about Thunder Bay and YOU and start thinking a little more about a family that is dealing with devastation today. They need the support. How can you help?
I don’t know if John’s views are popular, but they do seem to be shared by several others, including myself.
That’s all I will say about this incident.
Though, I will mention another bit of sadness from yesterday:
I’m very saddened to hear about the death of Robin Williams. I wish peace and comfort upon his wife, children, and loved ones. So many of his movies have made me laugh and cry; so much of his work has had a huge impact on my life. May he rest gently and be surrounded by light In the afterlife.