PICTOU, NS - Stacey Dlamini wonders what would have happened if one of her son's co-workers had stood up for him.
On Sept. 19, her son Nhlanhla Dlamini, 21, was shot with a nail gun. But, prior to that incident, Stacey alleges Nhlanhla was bullied for about three weeks since he started working with the company.
She believes if someone had said something to rebuke the offending coworker or encouraged Nhlanhla not to suffer through it, that the whole situation could have been avoided.
“I feel like we wouldn’t be here today if that had been the case,” she said before a crowd of about 50 people who gathered outside the Pictou Justice Building on Oct. 19.
Police have charged Shawn Wade Hynes, 43, of Trenton, with one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm in relation to the incident. While police have not charged Hynes with a hate crime, Stacey believes - based on what her son has told her of the way he was treated - that it was racially motivated. Her son is black.
The charge against Hynes has not been proven in court.
Racism still a problem
Crystal States of New Glasgow spoke at the event.
“We welcome all who have joined us today to stand in solidarity demanding justice for a heinous crime and that all workplaces be free of bullying, racial bullying harassment and discrimination,” she said.
She and other speakers at the event believe the incident is evidence that racism is still a problem.
“The legacy of systemic racism continues to negatively impact the lives of black Nova Scotians,” Sandra Andersen, who helped organize the event, read from a prepared statement by the African United Baptist Association. “These evil attitudes and actions impact the emotional, physical and economic well-being of individuals targeted by such actions as well as impact the entire black community.”
Grateful for support
Stacey said she was grateful to see the support from so many in Pictou County while her son and husband spoke at an event in Halifax.
The Dlaminis moved to Pictou County, where Stacey grew up, from South Africa about five years ago.
“We know racism exists in every society; we figured we may experience subtle racism.”
But she doesn’t believe the incident involving her son was an accident or something random.
“This was a result of a pattern of treatment that our son endured,” she alleges.
She encouraged people who are suffering similar treatment to speak out.
“People of colour in this province can’t just keep putting their head down and going to work and hope it gets better. We all have to make sure it gets better.”
People, like herself, who are white, also have a responsibility, she said.
“We have an obligation and we have an opportunity to end racism in our province. This is not a fight that is for people of colour alone. This is a fight for all of us.”
She believes that talk needs to lead to action.
“That action has to be that we ourselves do not perpetuate discrimination of any kind. That we don’t put it out there and we don’t tolerate it.”