Surrey mom believes racism behind accusation of sneaking into shared swimming pool
A Surrey mother believes racism was behind a recent demand that her family prove they were allowed to use the pool in their own townhouse complex.
Guerda Henry went for a swim Thursday afternoon with her two daughters, ages 1 and 13, at the pool shared by three developments at Brooklands, where she bought a home two years ago.
Henry, a health care worker who moved to Surrey from the Bahamas in 2013, said the three of them, along with a few close family friends, used her key fob to enter the Panorama Clubhouse. But before they could set down their towels, a caretaker approached them warning them of “concerns” from residents who believed they should not be there. The caretaker apologized, but pressed for an explanation as to how they entered the pool area.
Henry said she then held up her fob and explained she was an owner.
The caretaker said she’d been sent over by a man who was certain Henry and her family were from a different complex, and was being extra cautious after reports of people jumping the fence at night and engaging in “explicit behaviour,” Henry said.
Henry asked why her family had been immediately targeted, when staff have access to fob data linked to her unit.
It was an act of racism, Henry believes, and there’s “no bone” in her body that tells her otherwise, she said. Henry, who is black, said she has experienced racism in the past.
“But in my own home? It’s different,” she said. “This guy in my video, he lives, like, four or five houses down from me.”
The man later introduced himself as a member of the strata council and clubhouse committee.
Henry said that after she brought her baby home to change into dry clothes, the man returned and continued to question her teenage daughter, even after the caretaker had confirmed the fob was linked to their unit.
“At that point, I was livid,” she said. “He’s standing there like a big, tough werewolf with his arms folded.”
Henry said she asked the caretaker whether anyone else had been questioned and the answer was no. She added that people who knew her didn’t rise to her defence.
“I was angry. I felt embarrassed, I felt harassed, I felt ambushed,” she said. “Two years of going there.”
Henry said the man told her he was new but also knew everyone in the community and didn’t recognize them. She immediately contacted her strata council but also posted video of part of the interaction to Facebook.
Henry said she was reluctant to come forward with her story, but wanted to speak out so it doesn’t happen again.
“People are shocked to see that this type of behaviour is actually portrayed in Canada,” she said.
“It’s definitely an eye opener. I don’t want to say that it hasn’t happened before. I just think people are scared to come out because Canada is such a great place.”
She chalked up the racism to “a few apples in the bunch” but said her experience should be used as a teachable moment.
In a statement to Global News, which reported the story, the Brooklands strata council said it is investigating the incident.
“This should not have occurred in this manner,” the council said. “Steps are currently being taken to remove that committee member from the clubhouse committee, based on their actions in overstepping their boundary.”