Alberta minister says 25-year-old daughter was attacked in downtown Calgary

Raman Sawhney, 25-year-old daughter of Alberta Community and Social Services Minister Rajan Sawhney, was allegedly grabbed, pushed, sworn at and chased down a downtown Calgary sidewalk by a white man late Friday morning.

Attack happened in 'broad daylight' on Friday afternoon, Rajan Sawhney says

Rajan Sawhney, minister of community and social services, said her daughter was "grabbed, pushed, sworn at and chased down the sidewalk" in downtown Calgary on Friday. (Peter Evans/CBC)

Raman Sawhney, 25-year-old daughter of Alberta Minister of Community and Social Services Rajan Sawhney, was allegedly grabbed, pushed, sworn at and chased down a downtown Calgary sidewalk by a white man late Friday morning.

Around 11 a.m., Sawhney was walking near her office on Stephen Avenue after having coffee with a friend. Then, out of her peripheral vision, she saw a tall man walking quickly toward her.

Given it was in broad daylight and she was walking in a densely populated area of the city, she didn't initially think anything of it, Sawhney told CBC News.

"All of a sudden, I was kind of behind a pillar, and I saw the guy really close to me," she said.

"Right then and there, I knew he was going to put his hands on me."

The man grabbed Sawhney's arm, pushed her, swore at her and chased her down the sidewalk, she said.

Terrified, she threw her coffee at the man and ran across the street when it was safe to do so. Once she escaped, she called police, she said.

Sawhney also texted her mother saying, "Mom, I've been attacked. I'm fine, I'm calling the police." 

"I was sickened and speechless," said Rajan, MLA for Calgary-North East and a first-generation Canadian whose parents are from India.

"I'm very angry that someone would dare to put their hands on my daughter."

Sawhney, meanwhile, is "not doing the best," she said.

"It's sad to have to be [more alert] when you're walking from your home to your office," Sawhney said, adding the commute is about five minutes. 

"In this time I'm really trying to demonstrate strength because I think it's really important to be able to share this message with Albertans."

Multiple attacks on racialized women

There have been multiple attacks on racialized women in Alberta over the past year.

On Wednesday, a man with a knife attacked and yelled racial slurs at two women wearing hijabs in St. Albert, Alta.

Earlier this month, a Somali Canadian woman wearing a hijab was grabbed by the neck and pushed to the sidewalk in Edmonton.

In February, a Black Muslim woman was threatened with physical violence at an LRT station in Edmonton.

The alleged attack on her daughter has left Rajan "more motivated than ever" to ensure that all women can walk in public without fear of being attacked, she said.

"We are just going to turn this around and we're going to make sure that we have a very robust conversation about this, and that there's more awareness out there," Rajan said.

"Hopefully people will not be bystanders [and] everybody will speak up — not just the visible minorities, but everybody across the board."

CBC News has reached out to Calgary police about the incident but has not yet received a response.

With files from Carolyn Dunn