“Gang violence is not a South Asian problem, it’s an Abbotsford problem," said Abbotsford Police Public Information Officer Ian McDonald. "Vast majority of people make good choices and a vast majority of young men make good choices regardless of ethnicity. The issue here is not ethnicity, its criminal behaviour. When we were speaking about Clayton Roueche and the Bacons we weren’t talking about a Caucasian gang problem. When arresting and identifying people from a certain ethnic background we are really speaking about criminals making criminal choices, not ethnic groups making criminal choices."
By Ken Herar
I had the opportunity to attend the gang forum at the Fraser River Funeral Home last weekend. It was well attended and most of the attendees were South East Asian families. These community discussions have proven to be essential for people to gain a perspective on prevention methods and others ways we can keep our neighbourhoods and community safe from gang violence.
The past few months, unfortunately, our community has had more than its share of targeted shootings associated with local gangs. Let’s not deflect or kid ourselves that many of these lives lost have been South Asian young men .
It's extremely upsetting because many of our local young South Asian kids are outstanding students and members in our local community, who are not involved in any illegal activity. But, when a shooting occurs, some are early to speculate that it is a brown kid that has been shot before it’s actually been confirmed. Then, when it is confirmed and what has been speculated is confirmed true, the entire South Asian community often takes the brunt and is painted with the same brush.
One of the parents approached me last fall and didn't want to send their kids to Rick Hansen Secondary, due to the upcoming boundaries change. But, she claimed to me that she wasn't being racist. Her tone, sure sounded like she was. But, fair enough, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt.
Rick Hansen is a great school, despite what was reported in the CBC recently about its decreasing enrolment due to gang activity in the area. Let’s not forget that the Hansen boys basketball team won the provincial title this year and the entire team except for a few of the coaching staff were South Asian kids. The school has many gifted and talented students, which has often been overlooked.
The Abbotsford Police, school district and many volunteers and parents are working extremely hard to bring positive light to some of these challenges. I see a lot more outstanding students than those causing problems. We can't let drugs ruin and separate our diversity as a community more than it already has. I often share with South East Asian students when we do our Cycling4Diversity tours that the Punjabi community are not gangsters as sometimes portrayed. But, a community of philanthropist and are constantly giving back to the community where and when is needed.
Speaking with Abbotsford Police Public Information Officer Ian McDonald, who has been in this position since 2009, made some interesting points of clarification, He said, “When we were speaking about Clayton Roueche and the Bacons we weren’t talking about a Caucasian gang problem. When arresting and identifying people from a certain ethnic background we are really speaking about criminals making criminal choices, not ethnic groups making criminal choices.
“Gang violence is not a South Asian problem, it’s an Abbotsford problem. Vast majority of people make good choices and a vast majority of young men make good choices regardless of ethnicity. The issue here is not ethnicity, its criminal behaviour. “
Ken “Kulwinder” Herar is a Mission-based writer and a winner of the champions of diversity award for his columns in the LINK newspaper and other Fraser Valley publications. Herar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or view his blog at http://www.kenherar.blogspot.com