"if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen
the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu.

Seasoned broadcaster and anti-racism campaigner receives greetings from Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Horgan on her 75thbirthday Featured

 

The CEO of Burnaby-based Spice Radio turns 75 this Sunday, January 24.  

Shushma Datt, who is a pioneer in the Canadian broadcasting industry, and had started a campaign against racism in 2015, has faced many barriers and challenges because of her gender and ethnicity.  

Being a towering figure in the South Asian community, she received greetings from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and BC Premier John Horgan, besides congratulatory notes from the City of Burnaby, where she lives, and from the neighbouring city of New Westminster.  

New Westminster City Councillor Chuck Puchmayr, who is known for his stand on human rights and social justice, made a special announcement about her birthday and her work as an anti-racism campaigner during the council meeting on Monday night.  While Horgan called her directly on Friday to congratulate her, Trudeau sent his greetings through email. 

Datt started Raise Your Hands Against Racism on the birth anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. in 2015. 

The campaign encourages participants to colour their hands and leave a palm print on a white sheet of paper, alongside a message against bigotry. She aimed to link the campaign which has already entered its seventh year with the Holi, an Indian festival of colours that bring people of different faiths and backgrounds together.  

The campaign has been recognised by the Prime Minister’s Office, the BC government, and several municipalities across the province. Horgan has also participated in it, as did other prominent elected officials, such as the first turbaned Sikh Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan and Chuck Puchmayr.  

Grassroots level anti-racism activists such as Harsha Walia, Sunera Thobani, Imtiaz Popat and many others have joined the campaign at different times. She had awarded Thobani as part of the campaign to send a message against growing Islamophobia under Donald Trump. Thobani had spoken out against discrimination against Muslims in the post 9/11 environment and received threats. 

The campaign provides an opportunity to Spice Radio broadcasters to speak out against racism and engage with people fighting against this menace. It has become even more relevant due to a noticeable spike in hate crimes against people of Asian origin in Vancouver because of COVID 19.   

At 75, Datt is still not giving up. She continues to lead the campaign with unwavering determination as the task to flatten the curve of rising hatred remains unfinished.  

 

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