Americans are kind of at ease ignoring our neighbors to the north. Sure, we pay attention during the Olympic Games there or during the election of a new prime minister with Olympic-quality hair. We tune in when there’s a mayor with epic problems. But for the most part, Canada is just a country that’s up there, with which we have few problems and do a lot of trade.

But last week, one American went further. Much, much further.

Kyle L. Canty, a native New Yorker, went before Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board in Vancouver and asked the country to grant him refugee status.

That’s the official term for political asylum-seekers granted permission to remain, work and live in another country. Canty told Canadian immigration officials that after living in seven different states, he has faced what he describes as harassment and undue targeting by police in each one of them because he is a black man. And, Canty says, the recent spate of high-profile cases involving alleged police misconduct and black male private citizens have only affirmed his fears that this pattern might wind up costing him his life.