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LETTER: Community embracing the inclusion of South Asians

Reflecting on some recent events, I’ve concluded that there may just be a paradigm shift to more diversity and inclusion for South Asians on the South Island.

First, my youngest daughter and I attended this year’s Victoria Day parade, which was full of the always amazing school marching bands, and Shriner clowns. However, it seemed there were more floats included from various ethnic communities. What really stood out for me was that the parade’s ambassador was Gordy Dodd of Dodd’s Furniture. If you don’t know him, he is a local philanthropist who has gone over and above to support the community.

When speaking with other community representatives, I was surprised that they were the ones initiating conversations about Indian culture, Indian dancing, foods and their love for South Asians in their close circle of friends. It seemed to have become normalized in their minds.

Following that event, I met my parents and representatives of the local Hindu community to celebrate a certificate of merit for my dad – the president of the temple – and the Hindu temple executive. The award was offered by Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes, and it acknowledged the efforts of the group towards supporting all those in need in the community.

To top it off, Minister of National Defence Anita Anand was invited to meet the community and witness the certificate offering and graciously she accepted. There I was with my family watching my mom and dad being recognized by the mayor while the first South Asian female minister of national defence watched on.

I know there will continue to be days of sadness and hate in our community due to racism and exclusion. I felt it personally not long ago when I was verbally accosted for being a Hindu. But, it needs to be acknowledged there are many local, supportive people who should be thanked for their efforts toward diversity and their openness to learning about other cultures and faiths.

For what it’s worth, thank you. Thank you to those who have welcomed me and are welcoming others to join us in this amazing place.

Rishi Sharma

Saanich