As the woman stormed through the Canadian medical facility, she was adamant: She wanted a white doctor to treat her son — not a brown one and not one with an accent.
“So you're telling me that my kid has chest pains, he's going to have to sit here until 4 o'clock?” she told an employee at the walk-in clinic in Mississauga, Ontario. “Can I see a doctor please that's white, that doesn't have brown teeth, that speaks English?”
The employee responded that the facility couldn't suddenly summon a Caucasian pediatrician.
But the angry mother was steadfast.
“You're telling me there's not one white doctor in this entire building?” she continued. “Well, what's the closest that you have to speaking English?
“Being white in this country, I should just shoot myself. My kid is part not-white, so can we get somebody to see him that at least speaks English?”
The Sunday afternoon incident was captured on video by a man — himself an immigrant, according to HuffPost Canada — waiting to see a doctor at Rapid Access to Medical Specialists in Southern Ontario, near Toronto.
The episode has sparked outrage throughout Canada.
“I couldn't help but record the video,” Hitesh Bhardwaj told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “This is bad, this is inappropriate and shouldn't go unnoticed. I couldn't stop thinking about it. The whole episode kept on repeating in my head, I was very upset. You know I can't even define the feeling.”
Kathleen Wynne, the premier of Ontario and the leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, called the video “disturbing” and said it raised questions about how far Canada had come in achieving racial harmony.
“I think we all should be shocked,” she said. “If we're not shocked, that is a real problem. Sometimes we make assumptions about how far we have come about being an inclusive society and then when an incident like this happens … we have to step back and say what is going on?”
Nadia Alam, the president-elect of the Ontario Medical Association, said that the vitriol the woman expressed was extreme, but that her sentiment wasn't uncommon.
“I've seen it through medical school, I've seen it through residency, I've seen it on and off through my practice,” Alam told the CBC. “Sometimes it is openly like, 'I'm not going to see you because you're this skin color or you have this accent. I want to see somebody else.'
“You think that you're a Canadian, that this is your country, this is where you belong. And when someone accuses you that way or treats you that way, you feel like an alien.”
More than half of Mississauga's 700,000 residents are ethnic minorities, according to the Canadian Census, and more than 20 percent hail from South Asia.
Police said they were called about a disturbance at the clinic on Sunday.
Peel Police Constable Mark Fischer told CTV News that a woman at the clinic was “being verbally aggressive” in demanding a white doctor.
“The officer found that no criminal offense has been committed or was in the process of being committed,” Fischer told CTV, so the case was closed.
Police said a doctor at Rapid Access to Medical Specialists eventually treated the boy.
A woman who answered the phone at the clinic on Wednesday said officials there had no comment about the incident.
But RAMS officials distributed a statement to Canadian media outlets, saying: “The clinic is proud of the quality of medical care provided at this clinic.”
In the video, clinic staff were polite to the ranting woman. But at some point, people in the waiting room couldn't take it anymore.
They told her to go to another facility if she didn't like the color of the doctors at RAMS.
They defended doctors with accents.
And at one point, another woman got in the ranting mom's face and said: “Your child clearly has more issues with you being his mother than him needing to see a doctor. You are extremely rude and racist.”
But the ranting woman turned her ire on Bhardwaj and the other people who confronted her.
“You're brown,” she shouted. “You're brown. You're all attacking me because I'm white.”
The woman in the video has not been publicly identified, though CTV News reported that “two women who were friends with her until a few months ago … recognized who was in the video right away.”
CTV noted that the woman from the video “didn't respond when asked for comment.”
A sociology professor from Ryerson University in Toronto said “everyday racism” is “beginning to resurface” in Canada.
“I think people are feeling that there's a little bit more space now to question who's in positions of power, who's actually getting the jobs, those sorts of things,” Cheryl Teelucksingh told CBC News, which added:
In response, Teelucksingh believes, nonwhite professionals will probably revert to demonstrating their credentials by saying things like “look I went to school this long and did this sort of specialty.
“They're legitimizing not just their place in their profession and workplace but their place within Canada. To say, look, I actually belong here and I have the right to practice my profession.”