Kaur pushing past stereotypes in gang violence dialogue

Hyper-masculinity, alcohol abuse big issues

As the Lower Mainland gang conflict continues to rattle the region, Abbotsford poet Harman Kaur wants to push past “spoiled immigrant kids” stereotypes to issues unseen in popular dialogue.

In a recent interview on her book of poetry, which looks at issues from her perspective as a Punjabi woman in Canada, Kaur pushed back against stereotypes she sees online following violence.

“They always like to bring up the fancy cars and how much the net worth is of the house and all that stuff. Fair enough. If it’s vital, sure, say it,” Kaur said.

But she added those cars often come from parents working multiple jobs and taking little for themselves in a community that, as immigrants, sees being able to provide material items for their children as a sign of success. Kaur’s own father, with a master’s degree in English from India, still drives trucks for a living and can’t take time off to deal with back issues.

“I get that you shouldn’t be spoiling your kids. … You live and you die for your kids. My parents did that for me, and I’m most likely going to be doing some aspect of that for my own kids as well,” she said.

“But there are things that go deeper than that.”

Until recently, Kaur says, the community never talked about mental health, something she says impacts youth, parents and grandparents. She adds that a prevalence of alcohol abuse only makes matters worse.

“This is just a cycle of not being able to talk about your feelings, not being able to register what’s going on and then turning to alcohol,” Kaur said.

“In our culture, boys are told that they’re not supposed to express feelings; they’re not supposed to cry. And from this arises something that we know as toxic masculinity and this hyper-masculinity, where if you’re doing something other than that norm, you’re not a man. I think this goes to lots of communities. But I see it very prominent in the Punjabi community.”

And all of that can combine with domestic abuse, Kaur says.

“Put yourself in the shoes of a four- or five-year-old Punjabi boy, who is now seeing this in his house, who is not allowed to express his feelings,” she said, adding those emotions become pent up inside. “And this is how he grows up.”

Report an error or send us your tips, photos and video.

Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

@dustinrgodfrey

Send Dustin an email.
Like the Abbotsford News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Abbotsford’s top educator revisits mental health after blog controversy

Kevin Godden writes follow-up blog post on youth mental health after last month’s controversial post

Incident involves border runners, car crash and backpacks with suspected meth

Man arrested after ruckus in Sumas and Abbotsford on Thursday night

Inquest scheduled into death of man in prison for gang-related killing

Gurwinder Mann, 39, died in Abbotsford while serving life sentence

Pilots post pair of wins

Teddies tossed early on Friday at MSA Arena

Your daily commute and weather forecast: Dec. 11, 2018

A full week of rain ahead, with 20-30 mm expected today. Heavy congestion along Highway 1

VIDEO: Abbotsford BMX Race For Life

Highlights from the fundraiser event on Saturday

B.C. Lions hire DeVone Claybrooks as head coach

Former Stampeders DC succeeds CFL legend Wally Buono

France shooting: 2 dead, several wounded in Strasbourg

A world-famous Christmas market was put on lock down on Tuesday

Canadian warship witnesses possible violations of North Korea sanctions

Crew members on HMCS Calgary took photos and collected other information

Christine Sinclair named Canadian Women’s player of the year again

This is the 14th time Sinclair has been named player of the year

B.C. man wants trapping laws changed after dog killed

Louis Seguin’s 10-month-old Australian shepherd died in a body-gripping trap last month

Nearly 8,000 homeless in B.C., first province-wide count reveals

Twenty-four seperate counts in B.C. cities found there are thousands of homeless in all corners of province

White Rock to allow dogs on promenade

Plans for a one-year pilot program would continue to ban canines on waterfront from May to August

Most Read