13 Indo-Canadian vets win decade-long racism case

Toronto, Oct 10 (IANS) A tribunal here has ordered Veterinary Medical Association to pay compensation to 13 India-born veterinarians after they won a decade-long human rights case against the association.

The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal on Friday concluded that the medical association was “engaged in systemic discrimination” against Indo-Canadian vets associated with discount clinics, The Vancouver Sun reported.

The association, which became the College of Veterinarians of B.C. in 2010, “tolerated and facilitated the discussion of wide-ranging and race-based allegations about Indo-Canadian vets”, tribunal member Judy Parrack found.

Parrack told the association that it should end the discriminatory practices and pay the 13 vets, born and trained in India, 2,000 Canadian dollars ($1,544) to 35,000 Canadian dollars ($2,7000) apiece.

The association has also been ordered to pay interest for “injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect” plus more than 45,000 Canadian dollars ($34,755) in total for various claims of lost wages and expenses.

“I was not fighting for money, I was fighting for justice. You don’t know the hell I have lived through and continue to live through,” Hakam Bhullar, owner of Atlas Vet Clinic in Vancouver, said.

Bhullar was awarded 30,000 Canadian dollars ($23,170). He estimated that the veterinarians put 1.7 million Canadian dollars ($1.3 million) into fighting the case.

Another veterinarian Pavitar Bajwa received the largest compensation of 35,000 Canadian dollars ($2,7000).

Bajwa testified that “being called one of Bhullar’s loyal lieutenants made him feel like he was in a war with the BCVMA, which was stressful”.

The human rights hearing heard tape recordings of Robert Ashburner, former chairman of the association’s conduct review committee. The recordings were made without Ashburner’s knowledge.

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