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Canada: NDP MP Don Davies introduces motion to ban caste-based discrimination to ‘target’ Hindus and Indians

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A Canadian MP has introduced a motion in the country’s Parliament for the recognition of caste-based recognition. The motion has been moved by New Democratic Party (NDP) MP Don Davies. It call upon the government to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to add caste to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination. The NDP is in an arrangement with the ruling Liberal Party of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to support it in passing legislation.

At a press conference in Vancouver on Friday, Davies said, “Due to the tireless efforts of advocates, some institutions have recognized caste-based discrimination as a human rights violation as an inferred ground of discrimination. It is time we made this explicit and send a clear message that this is not tolerated in our society,” according to a release from his office.

“Caste-based discrimination is a part of the lived experience of many Canadians and ought to be explicitly recognized and prohibited under the Canadian Human Rights Act,” Davies stated. “Thanks to the tireless efforts of advocates, some institutions have recognized caste-based discrimination as a human rights violation under inferred grounds of discrimination. It is time we made this explicit and sent a clear message that this is not tolerated in our society.”

Davies was joined at the press conference by Jai Birdi Executive Director of the Chetna Association of Canada, Jyotika Jasuja, Chetna’s Cultural Events Coordinator and Manoj Bhangu. Manoj Bhangu, who won the first case of caste discrimination at the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, as well as Jyotika Jasuja, cultural events coordinator for the Chetna Association of Canada, and Jai Birdi, executive director of the Chetna Association of Canada.

“Millions of people worldwide still face appalling and dehumanizing discrimination based on caste and similar systems of inherited status,” said Bhangu. “Caste discrimination remains prevalent in Canada and we must take immediate action to address it.”

“Explicitly banning caste-based discrimination under Canadian human rights law would mark a significant step forward,” added Jasuja. “It represents an important acknowledgment that the problem exists here in Canada and would allow people to seek legal recourse if they face discrimination.”

“We must work together to build a casteless society where individuals can live in harmony with each other regardless of differences,” said Birdi. “We implore MPs to reach across party lines to add caste as a stand-alone category to the Canadian Human Rights Act.”

“Caste-based hatred and discrimination have no place in Canada,” concluded Davies. “I call on all Parliamentarians to support this important human rights initiative.”

Meanwhile, the motion, M-128, was criticised by Indo-Canadian community groups. In a post on X, the Coalition of Hindus of North America Canada argued it “misuses Human Rights’s noble intent, to single out, profile, & target a specific group of people based on their origin.”

“CoHNA has repeatedly raised concerns about the use of “caste” to target Indians & Hindus specifically,” it added.

Last year, motions recognising caste-based discrimination in Canada were passed by the town of Burnaby in BC and Brampton in Ontario as well as the Toronto District School Board.

Davies’ motion states “caste-based discrimination is a part of the lived experience of many Canadians and ought to be explicitly prohibited.”

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