Shame on you Walmart

Imagine a world where there are millions of refugees – no you don’t have to imagine.   It is real.  The recent scenes on television of the refugee crisis in Europe brings home the message loud and clear.

Two days ago in Macedonia

For those of us who have the good fortune to be able to travel the world seeing poverty is very often part of the whole process.  Sometimes it can be difficult being in a poor country as a tourist, knowing that we come from a privileged environment here in Canada and trying to reason with ourselves that just the fact of being a tourist in a poor country does bring in some value to the whole population.

Tourists on a tour of Mumbai’s slum meet a local resident

That is why I find the current Back to School commercial on Walmart so distasteful.  Let me set the scene…. mom picks up T Shirt for son and then imagines him leaning on wet paint so, being prepared, buys a second identical T shirt.  Another scene – choosing the back pack.  Son chooses one and tosses it into the shopping cart.  Mom imagines son just leaving his back pack on the school playing field so she picks an identical one and puts it in the shopping trolley.

What message of waste is this?  You don’t have to be a world traveller to be aware of poverty and children going without school supplies or back packs.  In fact you don’t have to go outside of Canada’s borders.  Just head out to your nearest Salvation Army or maybe even Sleep Country.  Many companies in Calgary are supporting the drive to make sure that every child has a back pack and school supplies.

I wonder how amazed and excited a small refugee child would be if he found a fully stocked backpack just lying in the middle of the field because the little boy who owned it had so much that he didn’t care if he lost it.  Mom will just replace it.  In fact Mom is expecting him to do that so he is only living up to her expectations.


By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.


  1. It is advertising , and there will always be more refugees , as these are happily taken away ,can anyone say overpopulation in non sustainable regions ,or is that politically incorrect ?? . Get rid of the problem not fix the result .


  2. really interesting article. Must be quite a shocking for tourist when they visit third world countries. As can be seen from the picture, the stark contrast in india can be quite impactful. Good to see tourist mixing 🙂


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