British Columbia

Sikh doctor subjected to racist comments following B.C. newscast says it's a 'reality check'

Dr. Birinder Narang, who spoke Monday on CBC Vancouver's evening news program about the province's vaccination plan, posted a screenshot after the segment of hateful comments hurled at him online.

Birinder Narang spoke Monday on CBC Vancouver about province's vaccination plan

Dr. Birinder Narang spoke about the province's vaccination plans during a CBC Vancouver news broadcast and later took to Twitter to highlight some of the hateful racist comments that followed. (Shawn Foss/CBC)

A Sikh physician who shared a screenshot of racist insults hurled at him online after speaking Monday on CBC Vancouver's evening news broadcast says he posted the comments, not because he was shocked by them, but because it is a chance to show others the reality of racism in B.C.

Dr. Birinder Narang joined the newscast to discuss the province's vaccine rollout plan. He said a friend warned him about disparaging comments on YouTube after the segment was posted there.

After seeing them for himself, Narang shared them on Twitter for others to see, with the names of the offenders redacted.

"I am not sharing them because I am sad or upset. Unfortunately, we are conditioned to expect these. It has been part of my training since I started working in Australia and here. I just don't want anyone to naively believe that Canada doesn't have its problems," wrote Narang.

Comments highlighted by Narang included such racist sentiments as, "Aren't there any white Anglo-Saxon doctors left in our country?" and, "I can hardly trust or believe ethnic doctors."

Narang says it was disappointing but not surprising.

"I should be angry, but I am so numb to this," he told Stephen Quinn, the host of CBC's The Early Edition, during a Thursday morning interview, adding the Sikh community "has been used to persecution our entire history."

'This is Canada'

He says what he does want, though, is for people living with blinders on about racism in B.C. and Canada to see what he and many others are regularly exposed to and take action to stop it.

"This is Canada in 2021," said Narang. "I think this is an opportunity for all of us to do a spot check, a reality check."

He told Quinn that in order for people to really understand systemic racism they have to see it first hand and he wanted to illuminate the issue in general, not point fingers at individuals, which is why he chose to post the comments but not to publicly out them.

"My intention was for everyone to realize we can get very complacent in our superiority, thinking that we live in Vancouver," he explained, saying shedding light is more important than whatever temporary satisfaction may have come from name shaming.

"This is happening in our home. This should bother all of us. And so, this is more of a community societal problem that should be shared by all," he said.

Narang said the situation has not derailed his desire to continue to speak publicly, as he will always welcome opportunities to serve his community.

With files from The Early Edition