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Solidarity with the Sikh community against racism

Gurkirat Batth

August 21, 2014

The countries in the West, like Canada, always consider themselves superior when it comes to human rights and equality. Canada, the proclaimed immigrant mosaic community, features cities like Toronto, which pride themselves on their diversity and equality. But in the last few months an anti-immigrant group has been distributing racist flyers scapegoating the Sikh community.
In April of 2014 a group called Immigration Watch Canada distributed flyers around the city of Brampton denoting immigrants as the reason for all the problems that “White Canadians” face. They said Brampton has become a city heavily populated by immigrants and asked “Is this the Brampton you want?” It was a clear attack against all minorities in Brampton, as the IWC seems to prefer the city of Brampton to consist of 100% Caucasian “White Canadians.”
This flyer was especially aimed at the Sikh community as the flyer had a picture from a Sikh parade that takes place twice a year. The Sikh community was outraged by this incident, and responded by coming together to show solidarity at the Sikh Heritage Month Reception at the city of Brampton City hall.
IWC distributed more anti-immigrant, racist flyers in Brampton on August 7, 2014. Similar to last time, these flyers attack Sikhs in particular as the flyers had an image of a man of Indian descent wearing a turban. This time the flyers had a strong message of hatred as they called immigrants in Brampton a “massive third world invasion of Canada”. This flyer claimed, “Mass third world immigration has lowered wages, increased unemployment and poverty, intensified competition for available jobs, made housing less affordable (…) reducing white Canadians to a minority in their own country”.
This angered many in the community, leading to a unity rally the very next day at city hall in Brampton. This rally drew quite a crowd including NDP MPP Jagmeet Singh and former MP and incumbent city councilor Bonnie Crombie. Similar flyers were also distributed at York University, which were met with anger and rage by the students, as well as the York Federation of Students (YFS). As Mithilen Mathipalan, vice-president, equity, said, “York is rich in diversity, and it celebrates that diversity. No form of racism or oppression is welcome here.”
Scapegoating for austerity
These racist attacks are symptoms of a failing system which is creating a divide in society. The capitalist austerity agenda of federal and provincial governments have made colossal cuts to social spending. Programs like unemployment insurance are now harder to access, as only 37 per cent of all unemployed Canadians are eligible for unemployment benefits. In short, tax cuts to big corporations, and now shrinking revenue will lead to almost $15 billion in cuts to social spending by the federal government from the year 2010 to 2017 alone. Low wage jobs, minimal social services and shrinking of the social safety net have disrupted people’s lives, and the 1% are displacing the anger onto immigrants.
The racist flyers ignore that Canada is on indigenous land that does not belong to “white Canadians,” and ignores that it is the economic crisis and austerity measures that are undermining working and living conditions, not immigrants. In fact, austerity measures are harsher on immigrants—who have worse employment, housing and health indicators—and yet blame them rather than the 1% responsible. The Harper government has cut refugee healthcare while blaming refugees for healthcare cuts, exploited migrant workers through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program while blaming migrant workers for job loses, imposed a two-tiered citizenship, and plan to revoke citizenship from babies born in Canada to those without citizenship. New immigrants are portrayed as the reason for lack of jobs, increasing costs of housing, and lower wages when in fact all of these things can be attributed to the governments maneuvering to cut taxes for big corporations to help increase their profits and swindling their citizens by cutting the services they deeply need. Therefore, a failure of the federal and provincial governments has led to a buildup of anger, which is being displaced onto visible minorities—resulting in hate crimes, from the recent vandalizing of a mosque in Thornhill, to racist flyers distributed in Brampton and York University.
To overcome the problem of shrinking social services and stop this injustice, the 99% must work in solidarity. The elites that make up 1% have no motivation or intention to stop these hate crimes and messages. It is beneficial for them as it takes the blame for the broken system away from them and deflects it onto immigrants and other minorities. For them, this keeps the system afloat and helps them increase their profits. The 99% must work in solidarity and raise a voice against the actions of the government, and not be split and consumed in hatred.

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