Growing ‘anger and resentment’ prompts message from Winkler police chief
As southern Manitoba grapples with low vaccination rates and adherence to public health orders, City of Winkler officials are warning conflict in the community is at an all-time high.
While enjoying a nice late summer day on Sunday, Winkler residents were quick to talk about how great the community is.
"As a whole, Winkler is very caring," said Steve Warms, who lives in Winkler.
"Friendly and caring, and we help each other out when we need to," said Tina Dyck, another Winkler resident who was reading a book in a park.
However, there have been growing differences in the city since the start of the pandemic.
"There are the anti-maskers, and they don't want to follow the rules. They say, 'Oh, with the COVID vaccine, we don't have to follow it,'" said Winkler resident Kaius Wiebe.
"A lot of us are sick of the masks. A lot of us are sick of government rules,” added Warms. “However, I don't think it's affected us as much as people are complaining about."
The situation in Winkler prompted Police Chief Ryan Hunt to write a long Facebook post Saturday.
"The anger and resentment that we are seeing in our community are unacceptable. We are better than this. This great community did not become great by acting the way we currently are," read part of the post.
Hunt's post discusses the animosity towards young people working in stores trying to enforce public health measures, and how enforcement officials are being targeted when handing out tickets.
"It is concerning to realize that drug traffickers and career criminals are more respectful to law enforcement than people who decide not to wear a mask," read the post.
Winkler Mayor Martin Harder agrees the division within the city is at a critical point but believes there isn't a quick fix to the issue.
"We've had lots of money distributed. I'm not questioning the amount of money the province has given us,” Harder said. “What we need is a change of heart in people."
Harder said Winkler residents need to think about each other and return to their community roots.
"There needs to be a better understanding. They need to get down to it and say, 'yes, the health orders are important. We need to make sure to protect not only ourselves but those in our community."
Harder said it's hurtful to hear people talk negatively about Winkler. He believes the city has shown its positive traits and will do so again in the coming months.