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Video shows woman demand a ‘white doctor’ treat son at Mississauga, Ont., clinic

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Andrea Huncar

A Mississauga, Ont., man is stunned after witnessing and filming a woman make several demands for a “white doctor” who “doesn’t have brown teeth” and “speaks English” at his local walk-in clinic on Sunday.

Hitesh Bhardwaj recorded the incident while waiting for his own appointment at Rapid Access to Medical Specialists in Mississauga, Ont. He shared his video with CBC News.

Over the course of four minutes of video, a woman asks clinic staff several times for a “white doctor” to treat her son who she says has chest pains. When staff tell her that no such doctor is available, the woman gets angry and at one point says “being white in this country I should just shoot myself.”

“I saw a doctor that was not white that did not help my kid,” says the woman in the video. “I would like to see a white doctor. You’re telling me there isn’t one white doctor in this whole entire building?”

CBC Toronto tried to identify the woman to give her a chance to respond to the video, but was unsuccessful as of Monday evening.

We’ve obscured her face in the video to protect the identity of her son.

Bhardwaj says that he started filming the incident after a woman sitting next to him asked the agitated woman why the doctor had to be white.

“I couldn’t help but record the video,” said Bhardwaj. “This is bad, this is inappropriate and shouldn’t go unnoticed.”

Bhardwaj said, as an immigrant to Canada himself, he’s really proud to live here and “couldn’t believe” what he saw.

“I couldn’t stop thinking about it,” Bhardwaj said. “The whole episode kept on repeating in my head, I was very upset. You know I can’t even define the feeling.”

‘Everyday racism’ resurfacing

Cheryl Teelucksingh, a sociology professor at Ryerson University, sees the incident as an example of the kind of “everyday racism” that is “beginning to resurface” in Canada.

She said some people are pointing to the election of U.S. President Donald Trump making people feel more comfortable saying things they normally wouldn’t. But Teelucksingh thinks there’s a more important factor: perceived multiculturalism, or the assumption by some Canadians that racial minorities are already treated equally across the country.

“I think people are feeling that there’s a little bit more space now to question who’s in positions of power, who’s actually getting the jobs, those sorts of things,” said Teelucksingh.

In response, Teelucksingh believes, non-white professionals will probably revert to demonstrating their credentials by saying things like “look I went to school this long and did this sort of speciality.

“They’re legitimizing not just their place in their profession and workplace but their place within Canada. To say, look, I actually belong here and I have the right to practise my profession.”

Witnesses at clinic step up

In addition to Bhardwaj, other people in the waiting room also confronted the woman in the clinic. In the video several of them try to get the woman to go to the hospital, to which she responds, “I was there and they only have brown doctors.”

One female witness in the video, tells the woman that, “Your child clearly has more issues with you being his mother than him needing to see a doctor. You are extremely rude and racist.”

Later in the exchange the woman accuses the witnesses of “attacking me because I’m white.”

The fact that witnesses in the clinic stood up and spoke out against what the woman was saying is a good sign, Teelucksingh said.

“That sort of shows the broader societal values and that offers some hope,” Teelucksingh told CBC Toronto.

Police respond to ‘disturbance’ at clinic

Peel Regional Police said they were called to the clinic just after 12:30 p.m. on Sunday for a “disturbance.”

Const. Mark Fischer said a police officer spoke to “all involved” and afterward the woman’s son was treated by a doctor at the clinic.

No allegations of threats or assault were brought forward by anyone involved and the matter is closed, according to police.

In a statement, Rapid Access to Medical Specialists said it “is proud of the quality of medical care provided at this clinic,” but that “no one in the clinic has any comments for the media.”

Canada

Somali youth project update (Project TooSoo)

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CBC —  For the past year, a group of young Somalis in Toronto has been learning how to re-claim the stories told about their community.

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Arts & Culture

Kenyan-Somali, black, Muslim and Canadian: new doc explores Canada’s hyphenated identities

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Short documentary ‘Hyphen-Nation’ by 22-year-old Torontonian puts five black women in conversation

A new documentary by a 22-year-old Toronto filmmaker is analyzing what is means to be an immigrant in Canada.

Directed and produced by Samah Ali, Hyphen-Nation features a 14-minute conversation between five women of colour that is inspired by her own cultural experience.

The women discuss how their cultural heritage influences their identities as Canadians and immigrants.

“The whole conversation is what’s your hyphen?” explained Ali, calling her debut film a “nuanced” discussion about what black Canadian identities look like.

“And that’s what opens it up to so many people to identify with because whether it’s themselves or their family members who have an immigration story, everybody typically has a hyphen.”

The women are asked if they identify with being black Canadians.

Ali explains this is both liberating and tragic. She identifies as a Kenyan-Somali woman, along with a Muslim woman and a black woman.

“I don’t know if I identify strongly as a Canadian, but definitely when I leave Canada I identify as a Canadian,” she said despite being born and raised in Toronto.

“The other parts of my identity, the ones that are more visible, the ones that I practice everyday are definitely the ones that are on the forefront of my mind. Compared to my Canadianness, it’s something that I’m not really aware of until I have my passport and I’m travelling to other countries.”
Sojin Chun, programmer for Regent Park Film Festival, says the short documentary captures the theme of the festival.

“We really want to show different narratives that you wouldn’t normally see through other means, through the mainstream media,” she said.

The three day event is free and showcases the work of women of colour which reflects Toronto’s east end neighbourhood.

“We really make sure we represent all the cultures that are present in Regent Park,” said Chun.

Ali explains this is why she wanted Hyphen-Nation to premiere at the film festival.

“I want this film to foster a greater community, not only in Canada, but also worldwide.”

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Somali-Canadian Community Discusses Causes Behind Rise in Youth Gang Activity

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The Somali community that settled in Canada says poverty and a lack of access to jobs and academic opportunities are some of the factors behind deadly gang violence that has taken a toll on its youth.

More than two dozen young Somali men have died in Alberta because of such violence in the past decade, with gang activity spreading to Toronto as well, officials say.

The Somali-Canadian population discussed the issue of gang-related deaths recently at a town hall forum hosted in Toronto by VOA’s Somali Service. In attendance at the town hall were an Islamic preacher, a woman who lost a son to violence, and two people representing youth and parents in the community. More than 200 people attended, including parents, relatives and friends of the victims of gang violence.

In 1991, a large number of Somalis fleeing war in their east African country settled in a group of residential towers in northwest Toronto.

Cultural challenges

The community has struggled to integrate into Canadian life, but several speakers said the largest impediments are cultural challenges, as well as poverty and a lack of opportunities for Somali youth, panel members said.

Habiba Aden, a cofounder of a Somali group called Positive Change, lost her 26-year-old son Warsame Ali in a double homicide in September 2012 in Toronto. She said she believes cultural challenges and a loss of identity are major issues driving young Somalis toward gang activity.

“Our sons lack paternal role model, and they do not speak their mother language, which forces them struggle with identity crisis,” Aden said.

In Canada, “mothers take the leading role of the family while still struggling with raising more than half a dozen kids. They do not get the same help and cultural co-parenting they would get back home from other family members,” Aden said.

She said she believes those challenges lead families to be less physically affectionate with one another, and eventually drive their sons to outside influences.

Sidiq Ali Hashi, the youth representative on the panel said Somali youth are affected by the socioeconomic status of the community coupled with the influence of the poor neighborhoods they live in.

“I think the reason is the environment where the Somali child is being raised. He grows up in the worst poverty-ridden neighborhoods of Toronto,” Hashi said. He said the neighborhoods where Somali youth live lack investments and good schools.

Because of these challenges, some students drop out of school and fall in with drug dealers and gangs, Hashi said.

Canada, parents blamed

Panelist Sheikh Saeed Rageah, a religious scholar and Imam, said the education system in Canada has failed Somali youth, calling the schools “systematic racism.”

“The education system in this country was designed to segregate us. When the Somali-Muslim child joins the school, he or she is labeled as a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD), which deprives them their rights for a fair teaching and homework support,” Rageah said.

However, Saeed Mohamed Mohamud, a parent representative on the panel, said blame belonged not with Canada’s education system but with parents.

“Whatever it is, I think the system in this country was not designed for Somalis. It has been the same since we came here. But I would put the primary blame on a bad parenting of many members within the community,” Mohamud said. “I am a parent. I always see young boys who went to school in the morning, and when they come out hanging out the streets of Toronto with their backpacks. Where are the parents of these boys?”

Some family members had questions for Toronto police, saying many of the homicide cases of slain Somalis remain unsolved.

Toronto police officials said about 40 percent of gang shootings in the city occur in the Toronto neighborhood where Somalis reside.

“We have issues with regards to gang members, drug trade, poverty, lack of opportunity, lack of recreational facilities, inadequate … housing. We have issues with families themselves and the culture that is brought into the community,” Toronto police Superintendent Mario Di Tommaso told VOA.

Di Tommaso said the gangs in Toronto, including those within the Somali community, are based on race, gender and ethnicity.

Community involvement

He said the Toronto police have spent resources to investigate the gang-related shootings and homicides, but he said some blame lies within the community and its lack of reporting such activity.

“We will have many situations where the community at large, not necessarily the Somali community, will make observations, will witnesses something, and they are reluctant to call the police,” Di Tommaso said. “When that happens, you have a proliferation of crimes within that community, which breeds fear.

“We need more witnesses from the community so that we can advance to our investigations,” he added.

At least one parent, Mohamud agreed to a point. He said the community was not happy with how the police and law enforcement agencies handled cases involving the Somali youth, saying, “We have a right that government investigates and tells us who killed our kids, but we also need to collaborate with the law enforcement agencies as well.”

Abdirahman Yabarow, chief of VOA’s Somali Service, said the forum was designed to give the Somali-Canadian community a chance to explore, brainstorm and find solutions behind the violence that is affecting their youth.

At the conclusion of the two-hour discussion, panelists proposed an organization aimed at gathering and making available resources for the community. They also urged those in the audience to unite against the influences that are pushing the Somali youth to drug- and gang-related crimes.

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