Friday, November 28, 2014

COLUMN: Trapped within narrow-mindedness

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 groups, 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 are 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 everyone is not 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

Monday, November 24, 2014

Abbotsford News letter I recieved. Do you believe this letter is racist or does it speak the truth about Punjabi's?

This is just another example of ignorance, rudeness and lack of basic manners on the part of 99% of the Punjabi community.

It may be appropriate in India to ignore rules, regulations and laws but in many other countries it is not. If things on sale have a limit then that is the limit.

At the recent Diwali celebrations at the Clarke Theatre in Mission 99% of the Punjabis were very rude. Adults and children were walking up and down aisles and blocking the view of those trying to watch the dancers on stage, going in and out of seats with no concern for those that were sitting, never saying excuse me, etc. Please and thank you, sorry, and many other common courtesies seem to be unknown words to Punjabis and they talk to everyone like they are their servants. 99% lack even basic manners.

No one should be allowed to come to this country unless they at least speak one of our official languages which are English and French. If they don't at least speak one of these languages they can stay home until they learn. There are many, many free classes to learn to speak English in Abbotsford and yet very few of the adults take advantage of these.

Kindergarten and gr. l teachers in all provinces have problems with Punjabi children who come to start school and have no idea how to behave, cannot speak English properly, and their parents pay no attention to what teachers say.

Very few Punjabis even try to assimilate unless they are well educated upper class people and even then many of them lack basic manners.

Immigrants from other countries came to Canada, including my grandparents, and those that didn't speak English learned right away without any FREE classes. They mixed with English speaking people already here in the workplace and their neighbourhoods until they learned to speak the language. They also learned proper manners in most cases, obeyed the laws in place, adapted the dress of Canadians, and did not expect Canadians to be patient with them if they could plainly see the immigrant was not even trying to learn the language, assimilate, etc.

I am friends with many Punjabis and they all agree that most of the Punjabis have no manners, have no idea how to behave properly and don't even try. When I am at most of the Punjabi functions like weddings, parties, etc. I am appalled with much of what I see.

Perhaps you could do more by writing columns on proper behavior and manners so that those that don't know will learn.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Let's share our butter with everyone.

Whoever, thought butter would cause racial tensions. Well, I witnessed a few instances during last week’s sale in a local grocery store. Here’s how the story goes, a South Asian woman had over her limit of butter in her cart, and was reaching for the last four that were available. The Caucasian woman said to the South Asian female those last four are mine. And so the shoving match ensues, between the two.
We must remember, there was a limit of four butter per/person and customers were walking out with way above their suggested limit. The South Asian lady was told by staff to return the remaining butters to the shelf and give the other customers an opportunity to purchase the three - day sale.

Its situations such as this that can create barriers and stereotypes. I’m not trying to pick on any particular community, but the South Asian do like a lot of butter and that’s fine. But, there needs to be a focus on following the general rules of retail when applied. I know this may sound funny and everything, but many people do get offended if rules are ignored. As we strive to bridge our multicultural communities together, we don’t need butter being on the menu of discussion of racial remarks. We should not let small issues such as this deter us from what we should be focusing on in terms of our cultural diversity relationships.

Also, recently I had a discussion with a senior citizen on the topic how language can be barrier, for those that do not speak the English language. This lady went on and on about how seniors from the South Asian community should try to learn English. I shared with her in a perfect world this would all make complete sense, but many struggle with learning a new language. I understand both sides of the equation very well, but with patience and understanding, we can make everyone feel welcome. I believe, overall the entire community has done a very good job in embracing each other through our differences. Sure, there is room for improvement, but there’s much to be proud of.

Four year old Rylee Melenka, enjoyed his fourth Halloween as Bumble Bee from the movie Transformers. He explained to me, that his costume gets more amazing each year and his candy haul gets bigger as well. Halloween is a wonderful opportunity to meet people and children in your neighborhoods, bringing our communities closer together.For example, young Rylee, recognized houses and people from years prior chatting with many of them.