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Fighting Racism in our Communities

Los Angeles, Dec 15, 2021 Sanghera
Ramesh/ A.Gary Singh

The recent increase in  number of incidents of hate, racism and violence especially against people of Asian heritage is very disturbing. During the past year such incidents have increased exponentially. This is a result of ignorance, prejudice and fear. Such criminal acts must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Here in Canada, racism was already on the rise before the pandemic. However, since the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic the situation in this regard has gotten worse. People who engage in such despicable behaviour must be brought to justice. There is no place for such individuals  in this country. As Canadians, we need to stand solidly with the victims of hate and racism. At the same time, we need to create more awareness about respecting and appreciating different cultures, languages, customs and traditions. In this context, Richmond Multicultural Services Society (RMCS) has started a very productive dialogue in the community.

                              In this regard, Alan Hill, Co-ordinator of Inclusive Communities of RMCS has been meeting with a variety of stakeholders and citizens for their input. The main purpose of this worthwhile project is starting a dialogue in the community on this subject. Incidentally, RMCS has been working to empower new immigrants and promoting intercultural harmony in the community for more than 35 years. In this context, this initiative is very timely and appropriate. India Cultural Centre of Canada Gurdwara Nanak Niwas on Richmond’s Highway to Heaven has always been very supportive of such initiatives. Around fifteen interested persons gathered at the # 5 Road Gurdwara on Thursday, December 9 to discuss the issue of racism and make suggestions to counter it.

                              The discussion was very productive, enjoyable and helpful. It was great to see my friend Rajinder Singh Pandher, a long time Burnaby resident, one of the founders of the Burnaby Multicultural Society and a very active member of our community join us.  Each one of the participants recited their own experiences and made excellent suggestions to address the scourge of racism and hatred in our communities. It was suggested that racism is more subtle now. COVID 19 and the growth of anti vax movement have provided more oxygen to racist elements in our society. Usually, the people who engage in racist behaviour are acting that way to hide their ignorance, fear of the unknown and low self-esteem. The discussion group came up with a number of practical suggestions to counter racism and hatred in our society.

                              In this regard it is important for each one of us to stand up not only for ourselves but also for those who are unable to do so. Participation in more shared activities like walking in groups, have more shared activities and interfaith events should go a long way in addressing   the issues of racism and hate crimes .We need more public dialogue to build mutual trust and understanding. Enlisting, encouraging, training and supporting capable  individuals in each community to act as anti-racism champions should be a great asset for all of us.  Also, involving the broader community in this process should be a worthwhile initiative. Overall, it was a very helpful discussion and a good start towards addressing the curse of racism and hatred in our communities.
Balwant Sanghera