Meeting the Challenge
Surrey, Vancouver, Aug. 06, 2008
President, Punjabi Language Education Association
Recently, this writer was invited for an interview by a mainstream
TV station. The host was a very well respected, knowledgeable
and veteran broadcaster. The main topic of discussion was various
issues affecting the Indo-Canadian community in Canada and what
the community is doing about them. The line of questioning reinforced
some of the perceptions about our community one hears from other
There is no doubt that the Indo-Canadian community is a very hardworking,
compassionate, law abiding and generous community. Unfortunately,
some developments during the past few years have also given some
negative connotations to this image. These were very well articulated
by my interviewer. These included domestic violence, youth/drugs/gangs/violence,
arranged marriages, internal divisions and the increase in criminal
element in the community.
These are some of the issues that have been of great concern to
our community as well. It must be recognized that the Indo-Canadian
community has been making an earnest effort in addressing not
only these but also many other problems affecting it. However,
it is likely that the mainstream media or the mainstream community
is not fully aware of these efforts. There may be a need for a
concerted effort on our part in reaching out to the mainstream
community in this regard.
Take for example the issue of domestic violence. To their credit,
a large number of community organizations have been doing a commendable
job in this area. One can notice the difference already.
Incidents of domestic violence in our community appear to have
gone down considerably. Nevertheless, a lot more still needs to
be done on this front. As a community, we need to collectively
address the root causes of this malady. This can be best accomplished
by educating the community about issues like alcoholism, dignity,
mutual respect, conflict resolution and problem-solving etc.
Similarly, youth violence seems to have come down a bit too. In
this regard, a number of organizations have been working tirelessly
in creating more awareness and educating the youth and parents
about the tragic consequences of involvement in this kind of lifestyle.
As in the case of domestic violence, we need to continue to work
hard with our youth and parents in order to keep them on the right
In the same way, as a community, we need to continue to work on
other issues For example; our community seems to be moving fast
from the concept of arranged marriages to those by mutual consent.
Also, the inner divisions within the community seem to be healing.
There seems to be more mutual respect and appreciation of differing
viewpoints and approaches to various issues in the community.
To its credit, the Indo-Canadian media-print and electronic- has
played a key and commendable role in this whole process. It deserves
the community’s heartfelt appreciation.
We have come a long ways since the dark days of early twentieth
century. All of us can be rightly proud of our community’s
accomplishments during the past 110 or so years. Though our community
has grown considerably during the past few years, yet in the overall
context, it is still relatively small.
Everything we do –good or bad- often comes under a microscope.
As such, each and every member of the community is like an ambassador
for the community. If we do anything good, the whole community
gets the credit .On the flip side, if any member of our community
does something unacceptable or undesirable, the whole community
gets tarnished. Thus the onus is entirely upon us.
(Balwant Sanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community