Toronto

'Learn English!!': Woman upset after postcard from Spanish-speaking friend arrives covered in corrections

A Toronto woman says she's filed a complaint to Canada Post after a postcard sent to her by a friend in Argentina appears to have been intercepted and marked up in red ink with the words, "Learn English!!"

Complaint filed to Canada Post over card, which was mailed from Argentina

Mirella Zisko says she was appalled when a postcard she received from her friend and former co-worker from Argentina was marked up in red pen with the words, "Learn English!" (CBC News)

A Toronto woman says she's filed a complaint to Canada Post after a postcard sent to her by a friend in Argentina appears to have been intercepted and marked up in red ink with the words "Learn English!!"

Mirella Zisko told CBC News she was pleasantly surprised to receive a postcard in the mail on Jan. 12, especially since it arrived at her workplace.

But then she turned it over. 

Someone, it seemed, had taken a red pen to the simple message from her long-time friend Oscar, crossing out words as a teacher would and correcting them for apparent grammar mistakes. 

Mirella Zisko's postcard arrived from South America with red pen grammar corrections, including the words, "Learn English!!" 0:46

Zisko describes Oscar as a man in his 60s, a former co-worker who grew up in and emigrated from the South American country, and recently went back to visit. English is his second language, the Vaughan, Ont., woman says.

When she received the card, she was stunned.

"First I was mad, and then I just felt upset for him," she said. "He's such a good friend, and he's an older gentleman, and I just felt hurt for him that someone would go out of their way to be mean."

'It's 2017. Who has the right to do this?'

Zisko says she hasn't had the heart to tell Oscar what happened to the postcard he sent her. 

She says the two worked together for years. He was a bright light around the office, she added, sometimes singing and dancing and also thoughtful, remembering co-workers' birthdays with little gifts and a card.

Her daughter, a university student, was furious when she saw the tampered-with postcard. "She's like, 'This is wrong, this is racist. It's 2017. Who has the right to do this?'" 

Mirello Zisko didn't have a problem with the front of the postcard; it's what was edited on the back that left her stunned. (Lorenda Reddekopp, CBC News)

Zisko has no idea at what point in the mailing process those red pen corrections were made, though she's skeptical they could have happened in Argentina, since the language spoken there is Spanish.

Complaint filed, woman says

Since complaining to Canada Post, Zisko says she has received an email saying her complaint had been received.

Mirella Zisko still hasn't told her friend what someone did to the postcard he sent. (Lorenda Reddekopp, CBC News)

In the meantime, she wonders if the tampering could be considered illegal. While opening another person's mail is a crime, this was a postcard, with the words in plain sight for anyone to see. 

Canada Post's response

Canada Post has responded to CBC News.

The corporation did not clarify whether this incident could be considered a crime.

A statement from the corporation's media relations department calls the incident unfortunate and says it's understandable that Zisko would be upset.

However, it adds that "with many hands touching the postcard before and after it entered Canada, it is impossible to determine where and when the marking may have occurred."

Zisko hopes telling her story may prevent the red pen culprit from doing this again to anyone else.

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