mask rules toronto

Toronto woman gets all racist after being asked to wear a mask in an elevator

Video footage is circulating this week of an unmasked woman telling an Asian man to "go back to his own country" after he asked her to put on a protective face covering inside the elevator of a Toronto apartment building, as currently required by law.

Ronnie Dancel says the altercation took place on May 15 at his building at 260 Wellesley St. E. in St. James Town.

The father of three and master hairstylist, who owns a salon in North York, wrote on Facebook when sharing the footage last week that it was the first time he had encountered such racist behaviour — behaviour that appears to have included telling Dancel and his wife to leave Canada and go to "their own country" at least three times.

Stranger still is that the woman we see berating Dancel and his wife, who are Filipino, appears to be of Asian descent herself (South Asian, to be specific).

"I raised my voice because I was so angry," said Dancel in a follow-up video posted to YouTube on June 1. "Fellow Asian to Asian… why [would] you do that? why [not] just be a good person?"

In that video, the small business owner explains that only three people are allowed on the elevator in his apartment building at a time. He was already on the elevator with his wife and one other person when the woman in question, also a resident of the building, dashed in as the doors were closing.

Dancel says he asked the woman nicely to wear a mask, pointing out that it's a building rule (not to mention a provincial order).

Having been to the hospital just days earlier and still feeling unwell, Dancel says he confronted the woman in an effort to protect himself, his family, other building residents and the entire commnunity.

"We have to be safe. I have to be safe. I only have one life," he tells the camera. "I have a family, I have three kids, you know. I'm the breadwinner for the family… I have to be safe."

While he says he regrets raising his voice, Dancel says he felt belittled when the woman said that this is "her own country" and suggested that he should leave if he doesn't like her lack of mask usage.

"Your own country?" asks Dancel's wife of the woman one point in the original video from the altercation, to which the woman replies "Yeah."

"What about us?" says Dancel, whose wife follows with "this is my country too."

Even after the couple threatens to report her to building management, the woman refuses to mask up, saying "I'm not going to wear a mask. This is my country."

The woman remains in the elevator as the video ends with Dancel screaming at her, threatening to alert her employer (allegedly McDonald's) and saying that her words made him sick.

This is far from the first video to surface since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in which people argue over the use of masks. It is also one of many clips in which anti-Asian racism has been caught on camera in Toronto over the past 18 months.

In fact, according to Mayor John Tory, instances of racism targeting East-Asian people in particular now make up the majority of reported hate crimes in Toronto.

"Hopefully this is a wake-up call to everyone that, you know, we should love everyone at this time of pandemic," says Dancel in his follow-up video of what happened to him in the elevator of his building last month.

"Be kind, be kind to everyone. To me, this is a lesson that I should not be raising my voice…. In my heart, every person, every individual is equal."

Lead photo by

Ronnie Dancel


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