COLUMN: Trapped within narrow-mindedness

I received an interesting letter from a local reader...

I received an interesting letter from a local reader. She writes about going to a recent Diwali function in Mission and describes that 99 per cent of the Punjabis were rude. She describes that people were blocking her view and had no concern for others.

She also says that no one should be allowed to come to this country unless they speak one of our official languages. She also talks about how Punjabi children just entering school cannot speak English properly or do not behave, and the parents pay no attention to what the teachers say.

At the end of her letter she says she has many Punjabi friends and they all agree that most of the Punjabis have no manners and don’t know how to behave properly.

Well, enough said.

I am Punjabi and I’m very proud to be one. I am not denying, we Punjabis don’t have any issues to overcome, like any other community group, but to say 99 per cent of of us are rude is the farthest from the truth and statistically incorrect.

I do agree, we have many people that cannot speak the English language, but that doesn’t define us as Canadians.

Punjabis are noted to be one of most generous people on the planet, who donate annually to many charities. I posted this letter on my Facebook to gather a community response and many agreed that the Punjabi community is always willing to help to make our community a better place. You cannot judge a few, for many. This is the  one of the difficulties of living in a multicultural community. People often get trapped with this narrow-mindedness and can’t see that not everyone is the same and shouldn’t be painted with the same brush. Some thought I shouldn’t respond to her, but I believed that it was important to bring this discussion forward  and create a level of understanding in a respectful manner. That’s how we’re going to see change, not by hiding it in a corner of darkness.

Cycling4Diversity executive co-ordinator Anne-Marie Sjoden said: “ I had the opportunity to visit a couple of the Punjabi schools, during our ride and each and every student spoke very good English. The teachers had amazing comments about their students. A very good friend is a principal at a Punjabi school. He has never said there are problems with kids not knowing English. In fact he has said quite the opposite and told me that the parents are very involved. I would have to disagree with the comment about 99 per cent of the Punjabi community being rude. I have always felt very welcomed at the temple.”

Kevin Francis said: “In 2003, the human genome project came to what should have been a staggering conclusion: we are all related.
I know from experience that adapting to a new cultural milieu is difficult without having to live up to arbitrary standards, indeed that’s why we, as a country, support multiculturalism; but integration cannot be achieved upon a designated schedule. Each one of us learns at our own pace.

Let’s not fall into the trap of intolerance because of cultural ignorance. It spawns an all too slippery slope that makes us forget what Dr. Francis Collins said at the end of the human genome project: indeed there is but one race, the human race.”

After reading the strongly worded letter it strengthened my belief in Safe Harbour training for people who don’t recognize diversity in their communities, said Rick Rake, Local Immigration Partnership (LIP) coordinator for Mission Community Services Society’s four-member Settlement and Integration Department.

“For anyone sharing these kind of beliefs, I challenge them to check out the Safe Harbour, Respect for All, website,” said Rake, who has witnessed far too many breaches of positive relationships with people who are different in terms of culture, ethnicities, religions, languages, abilities, ages, genders, and sexual orientations.

“We should strive to connect more meaningfully with one another by making an effort to understand our differences and similarities,” he said.

To read the letter visit





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