A Canadian witch is calling on the police to do more to investigate the ongoing attacks on her witch store. Dominique Smith, a magical practitioner with a quarter of a century's experience, alleges that she has suffered repeated hate crimes on her Winnipeg, Manitoba store—and she thinks local police aren't taking the attacks seriously enough because she's a witch.
Smith's Elemental Book & Curiosity Shop sells jewelry, stones and crystals, herbs and smudges, and offers services including tarot readings and conjure-based magic (like all good witches, Smith will refuse certain spell commissions on ethical grounds). Since opening in October 2010, Smith claims that she has been the victim of multiple verbal attacks and her store has been repeatedly vandalized—and she believes that the attacks might come from religious types irrevocably opposed to witchcraft.
While Canada is typically seen as the bastion of liberal democracy and Justin Trudeau's pecs, Smith maintains that Canuck witches still encounter rage and hatred from those fearful of their ways.
"I've had my windows broken three times," Smith says, adding that the first incident happening in 2012. "Hundreds of times, I've had to clean spit or urine away from the windows and doors." The vandalism is so common that Smith sometimes forgets specific incidents. "There was one time we were egged recently and I forgot about it until a neighbor reminded me," she comments.
Disturbingly, the store vandalism is supplemented by in-person harassment. "There have been many incidences of personal face-to-face harassment," Smith remembers. "I've had religious pamphlets shoved under my door telling me how evil we are, and people have come into the store and told me I was the Antichrist." On occasion, Smith says, she's had to call store security or local police because she was worried that the abuse would escalate into physical violence.
Despite this, Winnipeg police won't categorize the attacks as a religious hate crime. "There is little to be relayed with respect to the investigation," a police spokesperson told Broadly. "Per the Criminal Code 'a hate crime involving property would require the commission of the mischief to be based on bias, prejudice or hate based on religion, race, colour or national or ethnic origin.' It would be premature at this point to label this incident until the investigation is complete."
Smith is critical of the police response. "They're extremely unhelpful," she comments, alleging that police won't let her view CCTV footage of one vandalism attack lest she turn vigilante and enact vengeance on the perpetrator herself (perhaps by cursing them).
The witch is so demoralized by the attacks that she is considering shutting down the store completely. "If the hate crimes continue, I'm not going to have a choice to close. I work here on my own," Smith explains, "so I'm in an unsafe place all the time. I'm having to deal with people who think it's okay to express their hatred against someone who's never done anything towards them."
I ask her whether she feels that the attacks would have been investigated more fully had she belonged to one of the major monotheistic religions. "I don't feel it's helpful to compare," she responds.
Plus, all those broken windows are bad for business. "I've had clients tell me that the shop looks so spooky from the outside because of the damaged windows," she says.
Despite this, Smith remains defiant. "This is my job," she says. "I'm a professional witch. I'm going to live my life how I want to live it, regardless. Am I concerned for my safety? Yes. But at the same time, being a witch is my calling. I can't just stop doing it."