An 80-year-old Vietnamese grandmother was the target of three attacks and verbal harassment by the same group of teens in her Pembroke home in Ontario, Canada.
A South Vietnam native and survivor of the Vietnam War, Thi Nga Doan lived as a single mother raising her daughter alone after her losing her husband to the war.
Horrible night: On Aug. 20, between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., Doan was home alone when an aggressive banging at her door riled her dog into barking. She thought her dog wanted to go outside, so she leashed him and opened the door. What
was waiting for her were five teenage boys who hurled eggs, rocks, racial slurs and curses, according to her granddaughter Cindy Tran to Ottawa Citizen
- Doan doesn’t speak or understand much English but she made out snippets of what she could: “F**k you, f**k, f**k, f**k,” the teens said.
- After that, the teens started egging her house. One of them, believed to be between 15 to 17 years old, chucked a rock at her face, striking her left cheekbone and bruising her eye, according to the Pembroke Observer.
- Tran said that this caused her grandmother’s eye to swell and “[rendered] her blind for a few hours.”
- As Doan stumbled back into her house, she called out saying “Help me. Somebody help me,” in broken English, hoping her neighbors would hear.
Police search: Shortly after the incident, roughly 10:30 p.m. that day, Doan’s grandchildren, including Tran, arrived to take her to the Pembroke Regional Hospital and speak with the Ontario Provincial Police officers (OPP) until 4 a.m. about the assault. Tran said an OPP officer called her and confirmed that the neighbors heard racial slurs directed at her grandmother.
- The teens allegedly returned two more times after the initial attack to egg Doan’s house just two days after.
- According to CBC News, in the third instance, “one of the young people was seen yelling and banging on the door.”
- The OPP are investigating this case and looking for “four individuals…between 15 and 17 years of age,” who were, at the time, wearing shorts and baseball caps and known to “travel on bicycles.”
- The investigators are especially interested to hear from those from the Isabella Street area, with home surveillance footage, from Aug. 20 and 22.
- Tran told NextShark, the OPP said, “The investigation is ongoing and progressions have been made.”
Tran’s comments: As one of the few Asian families to grow up in Pembroke, Tran and her family are no strangers to microaggressions and racial slurs. Although it isn’t the first, she said “This has been the most extreme case of racism and discrimination our family has been subjected to.” Tran currently pursues her Master’s of Journalism at Carleton University with a focus on advocacy journalism for marginalized communities; this incident further solidifying her thoughts on how racism is still so prevalent.
- “I was just shocked, but then I started sobbing because you don’t expect this to happen to an 80-year-old woman,” Tran said. “This is not something that should ever even occur, regardless of how old a person is.”
- She struggled with deciding on her career path, but said that she wants to be an advocate and activist: “To be able to fight for people of color and to be able to fight for marginalized communities and…for what is right.”
- “I hope to achieve through my degree and through the work that I’ll be doing throughout my next two years at Carleton to be able to perhaps immerse myself culturally. To get a brand new way of thinking,” she said.
- Currently, her brother is staying with Doan because he doesn’t start school until January. Their grandmother feels safer and many people in the neighborhood are looking out for her.
Future steps: Mayor of Pembroke, Mike LeMay condemned the attack, stating how he was “incredibly disheartened, saddened and angered” by the “racially motivated verbal and physical assault.” He expressed that there is much work to do within the Pembroke community to prevent future racist incidents from occurring.
- Tran said the tentative date set for the routable meeting between her family and Mayor LeMay is scheduled for Oct. 16.
- Anyone with information on the attackers is encouraged to call the Upper Ottawa Valley OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers Pembroke/Renfrew County at 1-800-222- 8477 (TIPS).
Featured Image via Cindy Tran (left), Screenshot via CBC News