By Surbhi Bhatia
VANCOUVER: Indian business owners in a small Canadian town have been flooded with racist emails, warning them not to hire Indian workers.
Many Indian businesses in the town of Chilliwack of about 80,000 people – which is an hour’s drive from Vancouver – say they have been receiving such anonymous emails for some time, saying that Indians are coming to Chilliwack and taking over businesses and real estate and ultimately affecting the `quality of work’.
Someone in an email to Kuldeep Singh, general manager of Chilliwack Taxi Ltd, said, “You need to stop hiring East Indians (the term East Indian is used to refer to Indians) to drive your cabs around here. Not only are you losing out on customers (and I do know a great deal of people that refuse your service and would rather walk or take public transportation) but you are giving these people a reason to migrate to Chilliwack.
“Coming from the lower mainland (Vancouver area), I know exactly how these people (Indians) work, the entirety of this nation knows how these people work and they will begin migrating over here more and more and you know what that means? Take a look at the cab companies that are owned in the lower mainland, look how many there are and look who owns them. How many of the drivers are one of them? ‘’
The anonymous email goes on, “With that much competition, they are beginning to move out towards this area of BC (British Columbia province of Canada) now. Don’t believe me? There’s been an increase in the number of them purchasing real estate here and these people aren’t looking to come here to work for minimum wage. They are coming here to start business and one of their main trends next to the food business is transportation and you’re company is going to have a hell of a time competing.
“I am telling you this as someone who has the best interest of this town in mind. Do yourself a favour and stop hiring them. You will thank me and yourself later. I may sound like a bigot/racist and just an overall asshole but these are facts with PROOF. Think about the future of this town and your company. Stop hiring them. Don’t give them a reason to think this is a good place to do business and migrate half of their extended family here.’’
Speaking to this correspondent after he received the racist email, Kuldeep Singh, general manager of Chilliwack Taxi Ltd, said, “Racism is not new to this city (Chilliwack). I have been target of racist comments since the time I moved to Chilliwack ten years ago from Vancouver. But here the comments are much worst. I myself used to drive taxi and know sometimes people are intoxicated and they call us names. But I never took them personally. Then on February 26, I received an email which threatened me to stop hiring South Asian drivers.”
Singh said he overlooked the email thinking it to be a prank. “But when I heard I was not the only one, a restaurant owner too has received such hate emails, I reported it to the Chilliwack RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police).”
Earlier an email on the similar lines was sent to two owners of Indian restaurants in Chilliwack. “I promise you, if your restaurant stays in Chilliwack, it will never succeed,” the writer using a Hushmail.com address warned.
“Tell your people this is not a good place for them. . . . Your people come from a third-world India living in mud houses and drinking cow piss and bathing in milk.’’
Kuldeep Singh, who employs more than 60 South Asian drivers to run his cabs, said these emails are a matter of serious concern and should be investigated immediately.
Gurdit Singh Rangi, WSO vice-president, said, “Racism is unacceptable in British Columbia or anywhere in Canada. Chilliwack is a growing community with individuals of different cultures and faiths; this kind of attitude cannot not be tolerated.”
WSO President Prem Singh Vinning said, “We’re glad to hear that the Chilliwack restaurant owners who were targeted have received widespread support from their local community. It’s important that all Canadians stand united against hatred. We expect that the RCMP will fully investigate the emails and action will be taken against the writers.”
Kuldeep Singh said he even fears the revival of white supremacist groups. “I heard there was a group in the 1950s active in this part. They used to hold meetings. But I am not sure. Nothing could be said till the time these emails are seriously investigated by our local police,” he added.
He said he and the restaurant owner have been buoyed by the hundreds of emails and phone calls of support he has received. “Even our local MLA has shown a strong support. But there has been a lukewarm response from the RCMP.”
(Surbhi Bhatia was a journalist with the Times of India in New Delhi before she moved to Vancouver last year)