WSO: CDI College's Failure to Address Threats of Genocide Against Sikh Student Unacceptable

Ottawa (November 25, 2020):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada is deeply concerned and disappointed by CDI College’s failure to address the harassment of a Sikh student. 

On October 29, Prabhjot Singh was threatened during an online class by a student from India, who referenced the 1984 Sikh Genocide.  In the presence of other students and the instructor, Prabhjot Singh was threatened by the student who said, “I know you are Sikh, you are from Punjab.  Did you forget how you guys were slaughtered in 1984?”  

The student then went on to repeat several times, “did you forget how we slaughtered you guys in 1984?”

This incident took place in the lead up to the commemoration of the 1984 Sikh Genocide in which thousands of innocent Sikh men, women and children were brutally attacked and murdered across India.

While Prabhjot Singh called out the student’s comments as racism and unacceptable, no attempts were made to stop him during the class 

Prabhjot Singh reported the incident to Peel Police and also formally complained to CDI College.  Prabhjot Singh then received a call from CDI College’s Educational Manager, Mary Liiderman who said that the comments were a “historical fact”. 

The WSO wrote to CDI College to explain the significance of the 1984 Sikh Genocide and the serious nature of the threats made against Prabhjot Singh. 

On November 11, in an email to Prabhjot Singh, Liiderman wrote,

“After conducting an investigation, we have determined that although culturally insensitive remarks were made, there were no direct threats made to you.

Prabhjot Singh’s attempts to have this decision reviewed have not been addressed by the college. 

WSO Vice-President for Ontario, Sharanjeet Kaur said today, 

“The harassment faced by Prabhjot Singh is outrageous.  However it is equally shocking that CDI College would dismiss threats that reference the 1984 Sikh Genocide as ‘historical fact’ and merely ‘culturally insensitive’. 

CDI College must take steps to address this situation immediately. We expect exemplary action to be taken against the student that made these comments.  It’s also important that CDI College address the fact that the manner in which this situation has been handled to date has made it worse for the student, instead of creating a safe space for an individual that is being threatened. CDI College needs to immediately develop appropriate policies and processes to deal with human rights and hate-based situations like this moving forward. 

We will continue to assist Prabhjot Singh in seeking redress for this matter.”

The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs, as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights for all individuals.

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