Richmond, BC, Canada, June 13, 2007
Canada is very well respected internationally for
its policy of inclusion and respect / appreciation for diversity.
This is a matter of great pride for every Canadian. Its model
of multiculturalism promotes equal participation by people of
diverse ethnic, national, religious and cultural origin. As a
matter of fact, it is a source of great strength for Canadian
In this context, it is very unfortunate, when a bunch of spoiled
brats and misguided youth become a threat to other peace loving
citizens. It is even more tragic when their victims are innocent,
well-respected and harmless elders of a specific ethnic minority.
Racism rears its ugly head from time to time. Guru Nanak Sikh
Temple’s caretaker Nirmal Singh was savagely beaten and
mortally wounded by a bunch of rowdies who were convicted of his
murder. Last year’s senseless attack on two well respected
Indo-Canadian seniors-Mewa Singh Bains and Shingara Singh Thandi-
by two hoodlums shocked the entire community. A few days ago,
the Indo-Canadian community was shocked again by the racist verbal
abuse and rock throwing by some hoodlums, at a prominent member
of our community and his wife, in Abbotsford. Mr. Gurmit Singh
Tiwana is a prominent writer and scholar. The police have arrested
and charged four young people in this connection.
All of these tragic incidents and numerous others that go unreported,
point to a very serious problem.
Nearly all of the perpetrators of these heinous and senseless
acts were Caucasian young men. The victims, nearly in all of these
cases, were Indo-Canadian seniors. There was no provocation of
any kind from the victims. They were/are all very well respected
and renowned members of our community. All of them were/are simply
enjoying a peaceful life.
Sometime ago, a Sun-Leger Marketing poll found that 47% of Canadians
admit that they harbour racist sentiments. The poll also found
that 92% of Canadians had witnessed bigotry in action. These statistics
are a reminder that even a very tolerant country like Canada has
to do a lot more to tackle racism. That includes awareness, education
Why do people, especially certain youth engage in such criminal
and abhorrent behaviour? The reasons can be many. First and foremost
is the upbringing of the perpetrators of these crimes. Youth raised
in dysfunctional families usually lack empathy and compassion.
Their lack of a moral compass exacerbates their negative behaviour.
Low self-esteem, ignorance, fear of the unknown, feelings of insecurity
and outright contempt for cultures, other than their own, may
be other contributing factors to their undesirable behaviour.
Regardless, there is no justification for their despicable actions.
As a community, we must condemn such actions in the strongest
possible terms and fully support the victims and their families.
In this regard, the Indo-Canadian media-both print and electronic
– continues to do a commendable job. However, we also need
to lobby our lawmakers as well as the law enforcement agencies
to deal effectively with such unsavory characters.
Our lawmakers need to wake up to the reality that some of these
young people who have no respect or regard for others, do need
a strong enough deterrent and face the consequences of their behavior.
Our judicial system needs to deal with these miscreants more firmly
and decisively . Every citizen, particularly our senior citizens,
deserves a safe environment. These peace-loving citizens have
every right to enjoy life free of racial slurs, harassment, abuse
(Balwant Sanghera is a retired School Psychologist, Community
Activist and recipient of the prestigious Order of British Columbia
Award. He heads the Richmond Multicultural Concerns Society and
can be reached at