Ottawa chip wagon owner target of racist graffiti
Chip wagon owner Jack Nguyen can’t help but wonder whether an encounter he had outside of his Rideau Street business a couple of weeks ago, which culminated in a man threatening him and calling him a “f—ing little Asian,” is directly connected to the graffiti he’s discovered painted on his truck over the past few days.
Three or four days ago, Nguyen said he arrived at work to find a slur, one directed towards East Asians, painted twice on the side of his truck. On Tuesday morning, he discovered the word “veny,” a word meaning “strike” or “blow,” added.
“Yes, I think it’s racist,” he said of the graffiti, adding that he nonetheless isn’t particularly worried for his safety.
Since the spread of COVID-19, there have been reports of increased racist attacks directed chiefly at the Asian-Canadian community. Until these recent incidents, Nguyen noted he’d been largely untargeted by racial slurs since arriving here from Vietnam 30 years ago, including the last 14 years during which he’s owned and operated Jack Chip Wagon (the name, Nguyen explained, no longer appears on the truck, having been painted over so many times to cover up the non-racist graffiti that accumulated over the years).
“I’m so comfortable in Canada. My customers, they’re like 99.9 per cent so nice to me,” he said. “I personally haven’t experienced anything racist.”
Until recently, that is.
About 10 days ago, an elderly and extremely intoxicated man came up to the window of Nguyen’s truck and asked for a beer. When Nguyen replied he only sold soft drinks, the man called him a “f—ing Chinese COVID carrier.”
Only a few days before that, Nguyen experienced an altercation he believes may have precipitated the graffiti incidents. His chip wagon and its two picnic tables are located in a small bit of shade, beside a bus stop on Rideau Street just west of Friel Street. A young man, who was not a customer, plunked himself down on the top of one of the tables, beer in hand, while he waited for a bus.