To the City of Surrey,
My name is Jeevan Sangha, and I have lived in Surrey for all 21 years of my life.
I am proud to be a member of this community, and I attribute so much of who I am to the people of Surrey. As the daughter of immigrants, I had the privilege of growing up around people who shared my cultural background, as well as among families from different races.
Surrey has provided me with the opportunity to embrace my cultural identity alongside members of the community, and to learn about the backgrounds of so many others --which is an experience I am extremely grateful for.
However, as I grew older, I began to realize that the existence of diverse communities within a city does not mean that each community is being treated the same. From high school, to the present moment, I see my male counterparts labelled as deviants based on the way they dress, speak, and crucially, the colour of their skin.
I have heard countless stories of my South Asian brothers in Surrey facing harassment at the hands of police, and feeling helpless due to the unfair profiling they are subject to. Manifestations of systemic racism are not only seen in the South Asian community, but also through racial profiling of Black people in our community, the exclusion of Black Canadian history in our elementary and high school curriculums, and the lack of resources and services specifically catered to the Indigenous community.
It is for these reasons that the response from the City of Surrey to the public outcry against systemic racism is insufficient and unacceptable. In a time where the world is looking at how systemic racism appears both implicitly and explicitly in our own communities, we ask the City of Surrey to also take a look in the mirror.
Empty statements and words alone will not fix the structural problems in our community-- this can only be achieved through sustained action and commitment to anti-racism at every level of governance.
As members of this community, we look to our leaders to express solidarity with this global movement. We look to our leaders to acknowledge the ways in which Black, Indigenous and people of colour, are treated differently by authority figures in our community.
We look to our leaders to assure us that leadership of our city is in the right hands, and that we can look forward to seeing immediate action being taken to create a better, safer, and more equitable Surrey: Surrey that honours its cultural diversity by committing to the fair treatment of all communities.
Words are not everything, but they are the first step towards action, a step that my community is still waiting for.