Jyoti Gondek explains her commitment to ensuring that all forms of intolerance and discrimination are condemned in Calgary on Nov. 3, 2022. (Photo by Shreya Kochhar/The Emery Weal)

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek says obstacles can be overcome for those facing discrimination while at an event in early November.

“I think, as a politician, in this day and age with the amount of political polarization that we’re seeing, the amount of discrimination is heightened,” Gondek said while at an event called Passion Into Purpose on Nov. 3.

“There’s a heightened sense of racism.”

Gondek says Calgary is the third most diverse city in the country. Forty-four per cent of the population identify as minorities, immigrants, or newcomers.

Calgary’s first female mayor was born in London, England, and is the daughter of lawyers Jasdev Singh Grewal and Surjit Kaur Grewal, who are both Indian Punjabi Sikhs.

She says that being surrounded by like-minded individuals may help one make better decisions, get through difficult days, and triumph over disappointments.

“It helps you find a path to success,” Gondek said.

The event was organized by a South Asian community called The Sifarish Network.

Sifarish Network offers a platform for South Asian businesses to network. This network encourages one another as they embark on their professional journeys.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek describes how people of all ethnic backgrounds have experienced prejudice at some time in their lives and at the Hemingway Room in Calgary on Nov. 3, 2022. Gondek immigrated to Canada at a young age and discussed her personal experiences at the event. (Photo by Shreya Kochhar/The Emery Weal)

Racism in Canada

Canada has one of the highest number of immigrants in the world. This immigration trend has resulted in the arrival of people of many races and ethnicities.

Differences of colour among people of various racial and ethnic backgrounds are major factors in the spread of racism, especially since the spread of COVID-19.

Aditya Chaudhari, a South Asian artist who lives and works in Calgary, thinks that there is a lot of systemic discrimination that goes unnoticed.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek shares her thoughts at the Hemingway Centre on Nov. 3, 2022. Gondek is an advocate to end discrimination based on nationality and ethnicity in Canada, which is an ongoing problem in Calgary despite having a largely diverse population. (Photo by Shreya Kochhar/The Emery Weal)

“I went shopping in Kelowna with two friends. I budged the line by accident since I didn’t notice the people behind me, but this one person responded by yelling racial comments like ‘Go back to Pakistan,'” said Chaudhari.

This infuriated and disappointed Chaudhari and his friends.

Gondek, who has been a staunch advocate against discrimination while in office, wants to make sure this doesn’t happen on her watch.

“I’m here and committed to make sure that all types of racism and hate are called out. There’s no place for it. There’s no space for it in my city, in this society, in this world,” said Gondek.

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