Anti-skier, anti-foreigner rumours — are they really true? What do you think?

David F. Rooney
David F. Rooney

Rumours that foreign skiers are using the Food Bank are “vicious and uninformed in any way,” says Patti Larson, outreach services manager for the Community Connections Food Bank.

“I’ve heard these stories,” she said in an interview. “They are vicious and uninformed in any way. Everyone who uses the Food Bank has to go through a proper screening and application process. You can’t just walk in and get food.”

In fact, the only foreign skier Larson has seen at the Food Bank was an Australian who volunteered his time to help distribute food hampers.

“The people who access the Food Bank are our own Revelstoke people,” she said. “They are our friends, our neighbours and family members. Having said that, if a transient comes to us and is hungry we’ll given them some portable things like a juice box or power bar but that’s it.”

Larson said demand for food hampers has climbed and demand for some items, like milk outstripped supply. 175 people received food hampers last week — all of them local residents. That’s up from the average of 150 people who were receiving weekly hampers last year. It’s no surprise, therefore, that the Food Bank was caught short with high-demand perishable foods like milk.

Whoever is spreading rumours about the Community Connections Food Bank is, for whatever reason, spreading stories that are “vicious and uninformed in any way,” Larson said.

“If someone has questions about how we do things they only have to call us and ask,” she said.

There is a definite current of anti-foreigner and anti-skier sentiment bubbling just below the surface. You can hear it in conversations and read it in e-mails and, I’m told, in conversations on Facebook.

Here are some of the things being said: skiers — a euphemism that encompasses any non-local with an accent (that would be primarily Australians and New Zealanders but I’ve heard it applied to French-Canadians and Europeans) — are taking jobs locals could fill; skiers are taking food from the Food Bank; skiers are making time with local girls; skiers are arrogant and rude; and skiers are responsible for recent acts of vandalism. Let’s deal with some of these.

Skiers are taking jobs locals could fill

That’s one that could be true but not in the way the rumour-mongers mean. Local employers will hire anyone who can do the job they need done. If they are hiring foreign workers it’s not because they work cheap. They hire them because they have a good work ethic and a pleasant attitude. And even then there are jobs that simply aren’t being filled. The Latest Job Offerings section in The Current’s Marketplace has seen a lot of jobs advertised that simply aren’t being filled. I know that because the same jobs keep coming around again and again and again. If I was hiring again and no qualified locals were applying, I’d sign up an Australian, New Zealander, Brit or American with a work permit in a heartbeat. So would any other employer. But what employers won’t do is hire someone just because they’re foreign.

Skiers are taking food from the Food Bank

Patti Larson says it’s not true and I certainly have no reason to doubt her. In the going on nine years I have been a journalist here in Revelstoke Patti has never been anything but honest, open and forthcoming on any issue involving the Community Connections Food Bank. Can you say that about the person who’s spreading rumours and innuendo?

Skiers are making time with local girls

Possibly true. But then, so what? If your girlfriend is more interested in the guy with the intriguing accent it’s probably because your relationship is dead and you just can’t admit it… or you need new deodorant.

Skiers are rude and arrogant

IIf someone is rude and arrogant it’s because they have over-inflated perception of themselves and where they fit in the grand scheme of things — not because they are skiers. There are plenty of rude and arrogant people right here at home.

Skiers are responsible for recent acts of vandalism

Vandalism has been a problem downtown for years. Long before RMR cleared its runs we had people — drunks, maybe young, maybe not but probably local — tearing branches off of trees, smashing windows and even, on a couple of occasions, lighting fires. The latest act of vandalism occurred recently when a group of youths smashed one of the windows at the Esso station on Victoria Road. Police know they are young but don’t know if they are local or non-local, skiers or not. These are the acts of bored and stupid people.

So are the rumours about the Food Bank.