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

Surrey Mayor’s reluctance to acknowledge indigenous land is shameful Featured

Jack Hundial Jack Hundial

 

Gurpreet Singh  

When Doug McCallum and his team opposed a motion seeking recognition of Coast Salish territory on which Surrey City Hall is located, they were not only being insensitive toward the First Nations of Canada, but they also let down many South Asians like me, who believe in building bridges with the original stewards of the land.  

This happened when a South Asian City Councillor, Jack Hundail, brought a motion asking for such recognition as part of reconciliation and decolonizing efforts in light of cultural genocide of the indigenous peoples.  

Recently, another prominent South Asian voice, Anita Huberman of Surrey Board of Trade, also wrote an open letter to McCallum to respect that reality.   

We don’t need rocket science to understand why such acknowledgement is important.  

After all, the indigenous peoples have been subjected to systemic racism for years. Canada as a nation state has been built on their stolen lands. That’s the minimum McCallum could have done by accepting the motion with an open mind.   

Although we are thankful to him and his team for recognizing the Sikh Genocide that occurred in India in the first week of November, 1984, following the assassination of then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards, by ignoring the aspirations of the indigenous peoples of Canada he has set a very bad example. This reflects poorly on McCallum and speaks volumes about his double speak and hypocrisy on social justice. If you can be considerate for what happened to the Sikhs in India, why would you lack empathy for the indigenous peoples in your own backyard?  

It is pertinent to mention that even the Sikh activists are respectful of the indigenous communities and their rights. Dashmesh Darbar Gurdwara, which organizes the Vaisakhi parade every year in Surrey, also acknowledges the indigenous land we are sitting on. So much so, they invite indigenous peoples to their annual Sikh Genocide commemorative events. How come the Mayor cannot see this?  

Since South Asians and the Indigenous peoples in Canada share a history of resistance against colonialism and racism, we stand in support of the First Nations and call upon the Mayor to rethink his decision.   

 

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Last modified on Wednesday, 27 January 2021 00:41
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