Brampton residents outraged by anti-immigration flyers
Published Friday, April 25, 2014 1:53PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, April 25, 2014 6:25PM EDT
Residents in Brampton are expressing anger over a flyer being distributed throughout the city targeting the Sikh community.
The flyer, distributed by the organization Immigration Watch Canada, is titled “The Changing Face of Brampton,” and features two images -- the top photo shows a group of mostly white people, while the bottom photo shows a group of Sikhs.
“Is this really what you want? Let’s make immigration work for the interests of Canadians again!” the flyer says below the second photo.
In between the two photos, the flyer says that, according to a 2001 census, “mainstream Canadians” made up 59.6 per cent of Brampton’s population, with that number dropping to 32.9 per cent in 2011. “What will the Census findings be in 5, 10 or even 15 years from now?” it asks.
According to Immigration Watch Canada’s website, the group is an “organization of Canadians who believe that immigration has to serve the interests of its own citizens.”
The flyers have sparked anger among many residents in Brampton.
Balpreet Singh, a representative from the World Sikh Organization Canada, says the flyers are racist and offensive.
“I think it’s thinly veiled racism. It says that the proportion of mainstream Canadians in Brampton is going down, but who is to say Sikhs can’t be mainstream Canadians?” Singh told CTV News Channel.
“It really doesn’t make any sense. We’ve been here for nearly 100 years. Does one’s faith or skin colour determine whether one can be a Canadian or not? It’s just bizarre,” he said.
Singh noted that the Sikh community has played an important role within the Brampton community and has helped the city grow and thrive.
“Sikhs are in fact a very well-established and well-integrated community in all aspects, in fact Brampton is represented municipally, provincially and federally by Sikh members” he said.
Brampton MPP Jagmeet Singh recently passed a bill in the Ontario legislature naming the month of April “Sikh Heritage Month” across the province.
Members of the Sikh community, including Brampton city councillor Vicky Dhillon and members of the Canadian Sikh Association, are planning to hold a reception to mark Sikh Heritage Month in Brampton Friday evening.
Balpreet Singh said Brampton residents of all races and religions have condemned the flyers and offered their support to the local Sikh community in wake of the incident.
“The Brampton community is united and there has been a strong response, not just from the Sikh community but from all Bramptonians, that this isn’t welcome in their community,” he said.
Singh said that while the pamphlets are offensive, he does not think the flyers constitute hate speech.
“We have freedom of expression here and this is very fringe expression, but they’re free to do it. But the community is saying very strongly that they are not receptive and they should take this message elsewhere.”
Members of the Sikh Activist Network have launched an online petition on their website condemning the flyers.
Peel Regional Police say they’ve been “made aware” of a flyers.
“We’re looking into it,” Peel Regional Police spokesperson Const. George Tudos told CTVNews.ca.
On Monday, Brampton Mayor Susan Fennell tweeted that she reported the flyer to Peel Regional Police after it was flagged by a Twitter user.
And on Friday, Toronto mayoral candidate John Tory said the flyer is “deeply disturbing and saddening.”
He wrote on Twitter: “Hatred of any form is unacceptable! #TOgether.”
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau also spoke out against the pamphlets Friday afternoon.
“I strongly condemn the flyers distributed in Brampton which made reprehensible comments about immigration and the Sikh community,” he said.
“Canadians will not stand for this intolerance. We are stronger not in spite of our diversity but precisely because of it.”