British Columbia

Fears over backlash against international students as 3 people face deportation

Advocates are calling for better support for international students as concerns grow about mob violence in Surrey, B.C., after videos of violent brawls surfaced online recently.

Advocates say more needs to be done to support students from abroad, as RCMP investigate violent brawls

A still from a video shot on Nov. 11, 2019, shows a young man wielding a golf putter during a brawl in a parking lot in Surrey, B.C. (Screengrab)

Advocates are calling for better support for international students as concerns grow about mob violence in Surrey, B.C., after videos of violent brawls surfaced online recently. 

Police have been investigating the outburst of people fighting and vandalizing property since March and say about 50 people are involved.

Three people will be deported from Canada as a result of their involvement, according to Surrey RCMP. 

Kirat Khosa, an associate immigration lawyer in Vancouver, pointed out that many details about what led to deportation orders remain unclear. 

"The fact is, we don't know enough about what occurred," she said. 

"We don't know if these individuals [who are being deported] were charged or even convicted with the alleged crimes."

Student visas can be quickly revoked, she said, as non-citizens in Canada can be removed without a criminal charge or conviction.

The most recent video of violence that surfaced involved assault with a weapon and vandalism to property which occurred in a Newton parking lot on Nov. 11.

Video shows brawl, car smashed in Surrey, B.C.

3 years ago
Duration 0:34
Video shared on social media shows several people getting involved in a brawl and smashing a car in Surrey, B.C. RCMP have confirmed they received multiple 911 calls around 2:30am on November 11th of an incident in Newton on 128 St, between 69 & 70 Ave.

An earlier video showed a brawl taking place in the parking lot of a strip mall in Strawberry Hills in August.

"Whenever incidents like this happen in the community, it's certainly disheartening," said Arvinder Singh Kang, a Surrey-based advocate for international students.

While the police have said that many of the students in the mob are Canadians, Kang is concerned the incident has fuelled negative comments targeting international students online — something many of the students he's talked to have also expressed concerns about. 

"They said, 'These kinds of incidents make it difficult for us to escape that scapegoating," Kang said. 

"[They're] against street violence, it doesn't matter who is involved, whether it's residents or students. And those are the students that most people don't hear from."

Video captures young men involved in violent brawl in Surrey

4 years ago
Duration 0:27
Surrey police are investigating after a brawl broke out at a mall in the Strawberry Hill neighborhood.

More on-the-ground support needed

Kang, who is originally from India, came to North America as an international student himself. He's one of the founders of Team We Care and does outreach work with students.

"Ninety-nine per cent of the students are hardworking people who come here," he said. 

"We need to get away from witch-hunting, we need to get away from scapegoating, and we need to start a dialogue."

International student Jeshan Deepbrar says more needs to be done to break the stigma for international students.

He hopes to see more on-the-ground support for new arrivals to Canada, to help them fit in and build connections in the community. 

"The ultimate goal is to rebuild the community and to get more togetherness and peacefulness," he said.

"When you come to a different country, the new students who are coming should should know that there is someone — it's hard sometimes to get connected directly with the school [officials] or the government."

With files from Jon Hernandez