Woman shamed for Florida licence plate asks Sudburians to 'be kind to people' amid COVID-19 anxiety

Submitted by Lynn Harper-Kutschke

A woman, born and raised in Sudbury, says she's shocked following several hostile encounters involving people in the community shaming her for the licence plate on her car.

After retiring about six years ago, Lynn Harper-Kutschke said she decided to split her time between Florida and Sudbury. The licence plate on her car is from Florida.

When Harper-Kutschke crossed the border at Sault St. Marie on June 4, she said she was unprepared for how unwelcome she would be made to feel. 

"I'm really surprised that my fellow Canadians and fellow Sudburians are doing this to me," she said. 

'Licensed and insured in Florida'

So far, the 59-year-old said she's been on the receiving end of everything from finger wagging, to people threatening to call the police, to some people hurling slurs at her through their car window — with her granddaughter in the passenger seat. 

"The car is licensed and insured in Florida and because I couldn't fly home I had to bring my car ... so that's why I drove my car home," she said. 

Submitted by Lynn Harper-Kutschke

She said typically she leaves the car in Florida when she returns to Sudbury, but because of COVID-19 she decided to drive home this time, not knowing how much attention she would receive. 

It's just getting worse every day. — Lynn Harper-Kutschke

"Oh my goodness. It's daily," she said, "To the point, where it's not anybody being nice about it." 

On one occasion, Harper-Kutschke said a man pulled up near her car, rolled down the window and began swearing at her, while her granddaughter was in the car.

'It's because of Grandma's plate'

"He sticks his finger out and gives my granddaughter and I the finger," she said. 

"So I get up to the red light, we're right beside each other, he looks at me and he's telling me, 'F-off American ... and I just looked at my granddaughter and said, 'Just ignore him. It's because of Grandma's plate." 

The ugly encounters aren't limited to the road, Harper-Kutschke said, she's been confronted by people at the grocery store, in her neighbourhood and even on the way to medical appointments. 

"It's just getting worse every day," she said. 

Submitted by Lynn Harper-Kutschke

'I'm allowed to come back'

"People just don't understand that I'm a Canadian and I'm allowed to come back here with my car." 

Since her arrival to Ontario, Harper-Kutschke said she's been tested for COVID-19 twice and both have returned negative. 

She also said she underwent the mandatory 14-day quarantine period set out by the Canadian government for those returning from out-of-country. 

"I got phone calls every day from border security or public health. Every day. At least two or three calls." 

So far, Harper-Kutschke hasn't reported the incidents of harassment to police. 

"I just thought, 'Is that just adding more fuel to the fire?"

Harper-Kutschke said she wants Sudburians to be more understanding of people who may be driving with licence plates outside the province. 

"I didn't sneak over, I'm a Sudburian, I'm a Canadian driving an American car," she said. 

"Be kind to people."