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WSO, Canadian Race Relations And Immigration Minister Kenney Condemns Racist Vandalism At Brampton Sikh School

WSO had previously expressed concern over increased racist hostility against the Canadian Sikh community in the wake of mainstream media’s news stories portraying Sikhs as extremists.

BRAMPTON – The World Sikh Organization of Canada were joined by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in condemning the racist vandalism of Brampton’s Khalsa School.

On Monday night racist graffiti was spray-painted onto the walls of the Sikh elementary school.  Security video appears to show that the racist vandals were three young people, who scrawled swastikas and the letters “KKK” onto the walls of the Sikh elementary school.

WSO had previously expressed concern over increased racist hostility against the Canadian Sikh community in the wake of news stories portraying Sikhs as extremists.

“While we are deeply saddened by the vandalism of the Brampton Khalsa School, we’re not completely surprised by it.  There have been several incidents of vandalism against the Sikh community across Canada and even recent reports of racist attacks against members of the community.  Sikhs have been in Canada well over 100 years and also form an important part of the community in Peel. It’s sad that such acts of intolerance still take place but we’re sure they are not representative of the community at large” Said Ranjit Singh Dulay, WSO’s Ontario Vice President.

WSO has called for the vandalism of the Brampton Khalsa School to be investigated as a potential hate crime.

WSO legal counsel Balpreet Singh said, “the safety of the children who are attending summer sessions at the school is paramount. Attacking an elementary school is simply cowardly.  What’s also disturbing is that the perpetrators appear to be youth themselves. It’s important that those responsible for the vandalism are caught and made to answer for their actions.”

The Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) said it is deeply concerned about the recent vandalism at the Sikh school.

“We appeal to the Peel Regional Police to consider the Brampton incident as a hate crime and implement an assertive strategy of combating all manifestations of racism and discrimination under their jurisdiction,” said Ayman Al-Yassini, Senior Executive Vice President of the CRRF. “The CRRF urges Canadians to join hands in building bridges among and between communities and to speak up against racism and discrimination, “Al-Yassini added.

Kenney, who is also in charge of Multiculturalism, called the racist vandalism appalling.

“Vandalism is an appalling criminal act that harms both its target and the community as a whole. Acts of vandalism aimed at the faith or cultural background of a specific group of people are especially deplorable.

“The Government of Canada condemns the cowardly attack on the Khalsa Community School in Brampton which serves the large Sikh community in Ontario’s Peel Region.

Over the past year, a number of Sikh community institutions were vandalized across Canada. The spray-painting of a Montreal temple in December, and the vandalism of Vaisakhi Parade posters in Surrey, B.C. are two examples.

School principal Ripsodhak Grewal doesn’t know why the racist vandals would scrawl such hate onto the walls of the school.

He does know something must change in Brampton, which has seen two high-profile racist incidents in recent months.

“It’s hard to imagine this happening in the 21st century,” he said. “I’m beginning to wonder what we are missing when we are educating these young children.”

Brampton is home to the largest concentration of South Asians in Canada, at 31.7 per cent of the population. The graffiti incident comes just months after a racist YouTube video in which a 16-year-old Brampton girl equated “turbans” with “terrorists” and complained her entire school was “brown.”

Khalsa moved last June from a majority Sikh community in Malton to a more mixed neighbourhood in Brampton, after purchasing a former Catholic school building.

This is apparently the first racially motivated attack against the school. When it first moved into the neighborhood, vandals smashed the school bus windows, prompting Grewal to install security cameras.

Peel Regional Police spokesman Peter Brandwood said police do not have any suspects, but will increase their presence in the area.

“Hate-based crimes in our region always remain a priority,” he said.

The region saw 76 hate crimes in 2010, down from a high of 95 in 2009. The majority of those crimes were vandalism.

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