opinion
Stop blaming Brampton's violence on international students - we have to take responsibility too
By Guest Contributor
26th June 2018

Sundeep Hans

I love calling into Punjabi talk shows or radio shows for some much needed disruption. My spoken Punjabi is just accented enough to distract them with ‘this here is a Canadian-born caller’, but also good enough to alert them that 'this here is a disrupter who isn't sticking to our agenda'. But often I just get cut off.

It happened again on Friday.

After two videos showing young brown men brawling in Brampton went viral in the last few weeks, Brampton’s politicians were bombarded by calls from angry constituents. They blame the city’s escalating violence on the massive increase in international students coming over to attend Sheridan College.

On June 21st, all of Brampton’s MPs issued a joint statement saying they would work closely with their colleagues in the city. The mayor, who has been advocating for more front-line police officers, invited them to a Police Services Board meeting to discuss public safety. They all urged the community to report any further incidents of violence to the police.

And there’s the rub.

We can point fingers all day, but the onus is on the community to report crimes when they happen. Not to make videos and share across them on social media channels, to blame groups of people without proof.

Violent crime has escalated in Brampton, that is true, but the police don’t have enough evidence to support claims that the perpetrators are international students.

Nevertheless, the Punjabi media has been, for the past few years, consistently pushing out stories with a clear bias against international students from India.

The real problem is toxic masculinity. In our culture we excuse, we normalize, and even celebrate aggressive and violent behavior in our men starting right from when they are born. (yes, it’s a global problem in general, but I’m focusing on my community here).

This isn’t just because of our music and our movies, we cultivate their sense of entitlement and male privilege at home right from the get go, by wishing for male births (and using science to ensure the wish comes true) and then by throwing them the lavish lohris with tons of ladoos and pegs.

We have created a culture that allows our boys and men to believe that they can have whatever they want without responsibility or consequences.

On Friday, this is what I was trying to say on radio before I was cut off.

I wanted to point out the hypocrisy of the hosts, and uncles and auntiyan calling in, who were quick to blame international students but have done little at home or in the community to check this problem. A problem that has emerged in their Canadian born and bred children.

There have been fights with hockey sticks, baseball bats, and stabbings in Brampton high schools since the 1990s! There was also no mention of the recent murder of a Brampton young man, Paviter Singh Bassi, killed in broad daylight with sticks by his non-international student peers. Only four suspects have been arrested because of this culture, which protects boys and men no matter what.

And what about the rise in drug and gang-related murders of Punjabi youth in British Columbia? Those young men weren’t international students. Clearly no one was ready for this real talk.

There’s a Punjabi phrase that my parents taught me, which roughly translates to: "if you point one finger at someone else, three point back at you."

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Picture from a Youth Violence Townhall meeting this week, posted by Ruby Sahota MP





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