Monday, September 15, 2014

Closing File HRTO 2013-14459-I

Today I have slept and taken a sigh of relief a year and a half after the racist incident at a club in Peterborough which changed my life. This is the outcome of it.

I was target of racial slur, stereotype and discrimination outside of a club in downtown Peterborough on the night on May 10th in 2013. This incident which covered in extensive detail in my previous blog on May 11th, 2013.

I was told by the bouncer of the said club that I was a smelly East Indian in need of a deodorant and I should go home and get one. After being disgusted, humiliated and stunned by the incident, I decided to report it to the owners of the club who instead of trying to address my concerns called me “drunk” and at the same time stated that they had “yet to speak to the specific bouncer about the incident” on local news in Chex TV – Peterborough on May 13th 2014.

This actually made me furious as I am an abstainer who does not drink or get involved in any such activities. I decided to take the club to my 3000 strong social media followers to hold the owners of the club accountable.

Instead of trying to apologize and mend the matter, the owner of the club sent me the most arrogant unapologetic email saying that I displayed “drunk like” behavior, not that I was drunk.

That incident not only changed the way I see things but it also made me stronger in pursuit of justice and I decided to pursue the case at Human Rights Tribunal.

This has been a year long journey of resilience, resistance, building communities and staying committed to principles for me. I learnt that It will never be an easy process but it will always be worth it.

We are here today as our ancestors made resilient choices. Fighting racism whether you are in smaller or huge metropolises is no different. There will always be people to support and there are resources for your fight.

I am really proud to say that I had community advocate Karolyn Givogue of Community Race Relations Committee (CRRC) – Peterborough. My year and half journey would not have been possible without Karolyn and CRRC's support. 

I was represented by Kate Sellar of Human Rights Legal Support Centre (HRLSC) for the tribunal process. The Centre provides legal assistance to people in communities across Ontario who have experienced discrimination contrary to the Human Rights Code.

I am happy with the settlement my lawyer has achieved for me for racial discrimination against the club (The terms of the settlement are confidential).

Standing up to racism, discrimination and harassment is an important part of encouraging people to speak up. Our communities need to know that there are venues where we can challenge systemic discrimination and racism. Our voices will always be heard and there is no power in the world to ignore us.

I am humbled by friendship of
Anark Istani, Andrey Gomes and Waris Husain. These three amazing men who encouraged me to go to Human Rights Tribunal Ontario for the racist incident at the club.  Today wouldn't have been possible without them.

I am really thankful to 
Karolyn Givogue, Saiyed Bukhari, Jeff Vansteenkiste, Jennifer Ramsay and Ayendri Perera; who came to my Tribunal with me on Friday, September 12th 2014.

Thank you Guerrillera Collective, Bloggers from BlogHer, Anonymous community from #OpRacism, Safeworld Community from England & Australia, Vanessa Rivera, Isabella Summers, Katherine Grama, Kristen Hamley, Graeme Johnson, Matthew Davidson, Shireen Ahmed, Samar Esapzai, Abdullah Alhomoud and all others who messaged me. It would not had been possible without support of all who messaged me from overseas and distant places.

We are United Against Racism and Our Communities will Never be Silenced!

Ayesha Asghar
Twitter: @ashsultana

Website last updated 2013