A Williams Lake resident is hoping for people to have more understanding after feeling discriminated against by the community for being medically exempt from wearing a mask. (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)

A Williams Lake resident is hoping for people to have more understanding after feeling discriminated against by the community for being medically exempt from wearing a mask. (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)

Lakecity woman asks for compassion when she’s unable to wear a face covering in public

“People seem to have a very black and white view of this situation.”

A Williams Lake woman is hoping for more understanding from the public after feeling discriminated against for being medically incapable of wearing a COVID-19 mask for extended periods of time.

Megan Fletcher, 39, is a single mom of two children and said she is on permanent, life-long disability which, among other conditions, relates to anxiety and being prone to panic attacks.

Wearing a mask, she said, triggers her symptoms.

“My anxiety is so bad I don’t want to even leave the house. And then, to have trouble breathing and having to go into a store and having a panic attack is very oppressive to me.”

While mask wearing is now a requirement in all public indoor settings and workplaces, the B.C. Office of the Human Rights Commissioner, Kasari Govender, has laid out several exemptions for those unable to wear one.

From the B.C.’s Human Rights Commissioner: “You don’t have to wear a mask if you are under 12 years old, are unable to wear a mask because of a health condition or physical or mental impairment, or are unable to put on or remove a mask without help from another person.”

READ MORE: Anti-mask protesters cause disturbance on Ferry at Horseshoe Bay

Fletcher said it’s become increasingly difficult to carry out her day-to-day tasks that involve going inside stores in the city. She noted she also does not have a credit card, making online shopping next to impossible.

“My understanding and what I’ve been told is the owners are to offer alternative services if you are exempt — by pick up, by delivery — so you can still be accommodated without going into their store. There’s been no offer of that here. It’s discrimination, basically.”

Fletcher said she’s been refused service, kicked out of stores and even had the police called on her after getting into an argument over her refusal to wear a mask at a local business.

After being told to leave, Fletcher said she called the business several times to find out what the business’s policy is, resulting in them phoning the police.

Conversely, staff and business operators are not expected to put themselves at risk if a visitor becomes belligerent or abusive. Operators and employees are recommended to contact enforcement officers such as security or the police to remove the visitor.

“People seem to have a very black and white view of this situation,” Fletcher said. “Either you wear one or you don’t But there are so many variations on what’s actually going on and everyone is an individual with the right to approach it as they see fit. We don’t know everyone’s story and need to be a little more open-minded and compassionate to others, and give them the benefit of the doubt that they know themselves and that they try to be respectful of everyone’s rights.”



Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lake City Secondary School principal Craig Munroe. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
OUR HOMETOWN: Lifelong learning

Lake City Secondary School principal Craig Munroe got his first teaching job in Williams Lake

Mayor Walt Cobb waves from atop a tractor as he turns onto Oliver Street in the Daybreak Rotary’s annual Stampede Parade. Patrick Davies photo.
Lack of funding, volunteers has Daybreak Rotary bowing out of Williams Lake Stampede parade

Club learned this week it won’t be receiving local government funding, for the second year in a row

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

Williams Lake’s Brock Hoyer films a segment of the newly-released The Way Home in the city of Revelstoke. (Ryen Dunford photo)
Brock Hoyer stars in new snowbike film: The Way Home

The film is completely free and was released on YouTube on Jan. 22, 2021

The body of Kenneth Seymour Michell was discovered Jan. 14, 2021, behind a Williams Lake business a day after he was released by a judge on conditions. (Photo submitted)
Family looks for answers after Indigenous man dies by suicide following release from custody

System does not care about Indigenous peoples, says First Nations Leadership Council

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

“Support your city” reads a piece of graffiti outside the Ministry of Finance office. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti ‘unacceptable’ says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Interior Health officially declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Creekside Landing in Vernon on Jan. 3, which was followed by the first death from the virus 10 days later. (Kaigo photo)
COVID outbreak over at Vernon care home

Creekside Landing cleared of coronavirus, despite additional death in last day

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Most Read