Toronto: As India witnesses an alarming rise in cases of hate crimes racism, and vandalism across North America, students and Indians in Canada say they feel much safer and that there is no rise in crimes against them.
“There is no rise in crime against Indians in Canada. It is extremely peaceful. Overall, it is much safer in Canada for Indians than it was in the previous century when our forefathers came. Canada is a peaceful nation,” Balbir Gurm, community activist and founder of Network to Eliminate Violence in Relationships, told IANS.
The New Delhi-Ottawa ties have been under duress lately due to the recent vandalisation of Hindu properties and religious shrines, hate crimes, and a referendum to garner support for the secession of Khalistan’ from Punjab in India.
Last month, the BAPS Swaminarayan temple in Canada was defaced with anti-India graffiti, and in July, a statue of Mahatma Gandhi at a Vishnu Temple in the Richmond Hill neighbourhood of Canada was desecrated.
Indian-origin Sikh Joti Singh Mann, a radio host based in Brampton, was attacked by three people in August this year, and Kartik Vasudev, a 21-year-old student from Uttar Pradesh, was shot dead in Toronto as he stepped out of a metro station in April.
Echoing Gurm’s views, Sara Wasson (name changed), a student of Brock University in Ontario, said that she “feels much safer in Canada than in India. This is such a peaceful country with fun-loving and helpful people”.
“This is a friendly country. At 20, I have a job here and I am not dependent on my family to pay for my university education. Canada makes me feel independent and confident, and I am happy to be here,” said Ashwin Malhotra, a student who works part-time at a departmental store in Ontario.
There are over 622,000 foreign students in Canada, with Indians numbering 217,410 as of December 31, 2021, according to figures released by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
A recent report by Bengaluru-based research firm Redseer Strategy said that as many as 217,410 Indian students applied for Canadian education in 2021.
“What we are seeing is an aberration and not the norm. I feel that overall racism is decreasing in Canada against Canadians of Indian-origin. Today we can vote, be MPs, own property, and become members of any profession we choose,” Dr Gurm said, highlighting that the majority of Canadians are very accepting of all peoples.
“Everything’s peaceful here. No commotion happening here, seriously. Also, the Bhagavad Gita Park thing is a misunderstanding,” Divya Shankaran, who permanently moved to Canada three years back, told IANS.
While there was much hue and cry over vandalism of a sign board at a park in Canada’s Brampton that has been named Bhagavad Gita Park, the Mayor of the town clarified saying that the cops had investigated the matter and it was just a matter of “maintenance and reprinting work”.
Though there is no country-wise break-up of the numbers, Indians are the top immigrant group to take up residence in Canada this year.
In 2021, nearly 100,000 Indians became permanent residents of Canada as the country admitted a record 405,000 new immigrants in its history, according to an Economic Times report.
During 2021-2022, over 210,000 permanent residents also acquired Canadian citizenship, the report said.