The last thing Louizandre Dauphin expected after spending a rainy evening reading a book by the ocean was to get pulled over by the cops.
Last Thursday, Dauphin had driven out to Stonehaven Wharf, east of his home in Bathurst, New Brunswick, with a C.S. Lewis anthology in hand. An avid reader, he likes to look for quiet spots other than his apartment to take in a good book.
After a couple of hours at the wharf, Dauphin started driving home. About 20 minutes later, he noticed an RCMP cruiser behind him.
"He pulled up behind me and I initially checked my speed to see if I was driving too quickly, and I was actually driving under the limit," Dauphin told BuzzFeed Canada.
"I didn’t think anything of it. I figured he was just driving in the same direction as me."
Then he realized the cop wanted him to pull over.
Once they were stopped, the cop came up and asked him where he was going and if he'd been in the area by the wharf earlier that evening. He pointed to the book on his passenger seat and told the officer he'd been there reading and asked if he'd done something wrong.
"No, we just just received a call of a suspicious person down by the wharf," the officer replied.
Dauphin said the cop was respectful and let him go, but he's also positive that his race is why he was deemed "suspicious" by whoever made the call.
It was an upsetting encounter, but it's hardly the first one like it he's experienced. "It’s happened everywhere I’ve gone," he said.
Originally from Hamilton, Ontario, Dauphin was once pulled over in his neighbourhood, three doors from his own home, and asked what he was doing there. Another time, an officer pulled him over to make sure he owned the vehicle.
"Especially in Canada, this is an issue that we don’t really feel comfortable speaking about. We’re really quick to point fingers at other nations," he said.
"We pride ourselves on the idea that part of our Canadianness is our level of tolerance, but we’re not actually treating everyone equally. It’s just been another reminder that you can be treated as a stranger in your own land. It’s a reminder that these biases still exist."