WTS – What the Surrey #35: Blame Surrey

Comments 24 by Rebecca Bollwitt

I spend a good part of my week defending my hometown of Surrey. Sure the city isn’t perfect, it’s people aren’t either, but I honestly don’t think Pleasantville can be found anywhere in the Metro Vancouver area.

Over the weekend a terrible incident, fueled by intolerance and hate, occurred in the West End.

Early Saturday morning, Jordan Smith was walking along Davie Street, near Hornby Street, holding hands with another man. A group of four young men approached the pair, calling out gay slurs, Smith told CBC News. One of the men then hit him in the face with enough force that he fell back on the sidewalk and was knocked unconscious. [CBC]

The suspect in an attack on a gay man in the city’s West End on the weekend made a brief appearance in Vancouver’s new community court on Monday morning. [CBC]

(You can read more on Raul’s post from yesterday as well.)

What infuriates me this morning is reading a comment from the Executive Director of the West End Business Association:

The head of the West End Business Improvement Association is blaming “Surrey-ites” for causing trouble in her neck of the woods, including gay bashing. In light of the weekend attack on a gay man on Davie Street, West End BIA Executive Director Lynn Hellyar says there are people coming in from Surrey who aren’t what she calls “friendly” to the gay population, “I know there a lot of people coming from the Surrey area to the west end and they’re not particularly friendly towards the gay population but it’s mostly, I would say that they’re ignorant, they don’t understand it.”

Asked how she knows these people are from Surrey?, Well, the police are telling us that’s what’s happening a lot in the evenings.” [CKNW]

This broad, ignorant, and generalized statement doesn’t help anyone’s cause, really. Haters come from everywhere. It’s sad and tragic however, the WEBIA’s lumping of the suspect of this despicable crime into a category with all other “Surrey-ites” makes me feel more shame as a current resident of the West End than being a person from Surrey.

Law breakers and hate mongers also live Downtown and on the North Shore while sociopaths and miscreants aren’t uniquely from south of the Fraser River. I think we could all use a lesson in tolerance and respect, no matter where we’re from or where we are now.

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24 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. lucTuesday, September 30th, 2008 — 7:11am PDT

    I think that WEBIA members should remove their president over the derogatory remarks. She’s not, what I call, “human friendly”.

  2. AdelaideTuesday, September 30th, 2008 — 8:16am PDT

    Sadly, I think she may as well said what she really wanted to say…the South Asian community.

    I can see why you’re totally incensed with her remark.

  3. GregTuesday, September 30th, 2008 — 9:36am PDT

    Unfair finger pointing on the part of the WEBIA director, but to repeat my phrase from Raul’s blog, there is an overabundance of angsty douchenozzles from the suburbs who flock to Granville St as their drunken playground and can’t respect Downtown as a neighbourhood where people live.

  4. Urban DwellerTuesday, September 30th, 2008 — 11:40am PDT

    I think she wanted to say Indo-Canadian, but Surrey was a safer/indirect way. The sad thing is I hear this guy is from East Van, possibly Little India. Not that any of that matters, what this idiot did was completely despicable.

    Greg is also right in that some Suburbanites come to downtown and don’t show it any respect. How would they like it if we came to their neighbourhoods and did the same. Douchenozzles, I think the bloggers at Vancity Buzz where called that at too once? lol.

  5. NicoleTuesday, September 30th, 2008 — 12:52pm PDT

    Cultural background and religion have influences on the way people grow and live their lives, however it is unfair to blame this individual’s actions on the indo-canadian community, sikh or hindu or other religion, or the place they were raised. We live in a global community where ignorance is inexcusable, period. When this man goes to court, he will be the subject of charges and eventually punishment. His culture does not go to court, and his hometown does not go to court, so stop blaming anyone/anything but him for his actions. He is a grown man, and therefore wholly responsible.

    I find it sad that if this Hellyar individual had blamed the indo-canadian culture there would be a social uproar, whereas blaming Surrey provokes little to no backlash. The general (albeit ignorant) opinion will not change unless people try to make the change. I, for one, love Surrey.

  6. BobTuesday, September 30th, 2008 — 2:39pm PDT

    @ Greg

    Greg is right. Statistically speaking, most crime/assaults committed downtown are caused by those that do not live there. Which makes sense because there are a large number of people coming from the sub burbs for entertainment. Also people from the brubs are less likely to feel connect to the downtown community and so more likely to commit crime.

    While a blanket statement like that is insensitive by the WEBA (and not the best way to go about it), it can be useful to recognize it (if it is true). The first step is recognizing that a problem exists and finding the root problem.

  7. DAVID BOONTuesday, September 30th, 2008 — 3:00pm PDT

    I have worked with some gay guys downtown vancouver. I have anything againest them, but I have to admit that most of them were so ignorant that I wanted to break their jaw. They think tht they r king of some sort and better than others, just cuz they are gay and live in downtown. I’m pretty sure this gay guy who got punched did something to provoke those guys.

  8. Peter sousaTuesday, September 30th, 2008 — 3:17pm PDT

    Granville street is all about bars and clubs, where people go and get hammered. I’m there every friday. I dont need anybody telling me how to behave. If I’m doing anything wrong while I’m there Cops will take care of it.MR. DWELLER shouldnt be living on that street If he doesnt like the noise.

  9. Peter sousaTuesday, September 30th, 2008 — 3:36pm PDT

    just a question:

    If some gay guy punches me and makes fun of me for being straight. Would It be considered as hate crime.I dont think so!
    isnt this discrimination againest staright peoeple?

  10. RobTuesday, September 30th, 2008 — 3:38pm PDT

    I think a part of the blame game going on here is strictly about putting some distance between the local area and the perpetrators. It seems to me that it’s easier to pin these problems down to issues of to be found in some other community, and not in the jurisdiction of local officials;
    “we’re cool with gay people, but people from Surrey aren’t”.

    It’s far too easy to blame an area with a stigma for violence and narrow-mindedness rather than admit that it can happen anywhere. It can also be a neat little sidestep away from having to really look at societal attitudes toward sexuality in general. That someone can be assaulted for who they choose to hold hands with is an embarrassment to everyone, but perhaps this is true for different reasons.

  11. Erin MaherTuesday, September 30th, 2008 — 4:00pm PDT

    @ Greg and Bob.

    I feel you are both missing the point. There are idiots everywhere. Just because someone lives in the West End, they do not suddenly become catapulted into some elite realm of superiority. The point here (I think) is that meeting ignorance with ignorance is counter-productive. Finger pointing at Surrey, rather than at the real issue – intolerance for gays – is ridiculous.

    Those four men are ignorant and small-minded, but Lynn Hellyar is proving herself similarly minded.

  12. Spencer HerbertTuesday, September 30th, 2008 — 4:03pm PDT

    This whole incident is really sad. It makes me angry, and reminds me that we still have a long way to go in terms of developing an accepting society.
    Surrey isn’t responsible – we all are. Our provincial school system is still unsafe, and many are coming out of school feeling it’s still OK to go after those perceived as different.
    One thing that I hope comes out of this is recognition that many do not feel comfortable coming forward if they have been attacked. We need to look at the establishment of a provincial bash line so that no matter where you have been attacked you have some place to report it so the police know what’s going on. Many won’t phone the police for fear that they will be outed, or not taken seriously. A bash line has been used in other places to great success. Vancouver had one until a few years ago, but was never adequately supported by government.

  13. gusgreeperTuesday, September 30th, 2008 — 9:20pm PDT

    just fyi, i read this post but not its comments for the same reason i read zero olympic posts before writing my own. i care about how other people feel but i am so infuriated by this for so many reason including speculation that it is surrey’s fault in any way shape or form, please. i will as usual stay out of ‘politics’ best i can cept to say i can not discuss this with anyone without my voice raising to yelling volumes without even meaning too. someday maybe i will break into the political blogging scene, stranger things have happened 😛

  14. Vancouver Blogger Gus Greeper » Blog Archive » Congratulations!Wednesday, October 1st, 2008 — 11:40am PDT

    […] West End saving our neighborhood from gay bashing fuckers. [must read posts on this locale travesty Miss604 & Raul]  I think I’d put my first card on West End BIA Executive Director Lynn […]

  15. RaulWednesday, October 1st, 2008 — 12:04pm PDT

    As I mentioned in a response to comments on my blog, we shouldn’t finger point to “people from this or that” geographical region (or even ethnicity, for that matter). We should be looking at ways to increase public safety for everyone, not only for minorities. But it’s also true (and sad) that attacks on minorities are always a dime a dozen 🙁

    Great post Rebecca, we should raise as much awareness as we can 🙂

  16. -a-d-r-u-u-Wednesday, October 1st, 2008 — 8:28pm PDT

    Forget any sensitivity. I’m straight and South Indian by descent and just moved to Vancouver from Houston. It made me sick to read what those kids did. As an Asian person, it makes me sick when people of foreign descent are so ignorant of the very values that make their lame little suburban lives possible.

    I just arrived here last week, and have been amazed at how diverse and well put together the city is. I have been walking around with a huge grin on my face at times. I used to live in New York and Montreal, and am relatively well-traveled, so I don’t feel like I am being naive when I say love this town so far.

    Closing up — It was really sad to hear this story. I noticed in the Metro story, there was no reporting on Surrey/Indo-Canadian responses to this event. No printed condemnation…no response from anyone that represents Surrey Indians (not sure if these groups exist). That lack of a response was disappointing, and I hope I just missed that response in later reporting.

  17. MaktaaqThursday, October 2nd, 2008 — 8:11am PDT

    What is really annoying about this is that the victim is from Surrey and the attacker was from Vancouver.

    Anyhow, Watts spoke out on Surrey-bashing.

  18. MaktaaqThursday, October 2nd, 2008 — 8:16am PDT

    Oh, and every crime I have ever witnessed locally was carried out by a white guy wearing nicer clothes than me. I really hate it when the media and locals get all huffy and only notice the criminal’s background when he’s not white. Shows how racist this country is under its fake granola demeanour.

  19. Kal SidhuThursday, October 2nd, 2008 — 10:43am PDT

    Just cuz some ignorant Indo canadian kids beat up Mr. Jordan Smith, doesnt mean people can blame whole community.Yes, I’m not Gay and I wouldnt like to hang out with them because I’m not comfortable ,But I’m not gonna go out and beat them up or make fun of them. It’s their personal choice and their right.
    It seems like Whenever some Indo-Canadian commits crime, Whole community gets balme for it.Click on this link and tell me how many Indo-canadians are there. I see only one.

  20. Kal SidhuThursday, October 2nd, 2008 — 11:00am PDT

    Check this out as well:
    and Please google child abusers in B.C. I would say 80% of the abusers are white males. Does that mean all the White males like to molest childern?

  21. Paul SidhuThursday, October 2nd, 2008 — 11:16am PDT

    The whole community shouldnt be blamed for some ignorant’s stupid behaviour.I’m hearing all this nonsence that all the indo candian people are homophobic.I’m not gay, None of friends are.But doesnt mean I hate them or wanna beat them up. It’s their personal choice and their right.Google child abusers in B.C. 80% of them are White Males.Does that mean all the white males are child molesters?
    No right.

  22. daveSaturday, October 4th, 2008 — 8:06am PDT

    all the beatings you hear about are by people from surrey tho.

    but maybe its because its big enough to home ignorant people who should be burned at the stake. i live downtown, and i feel more unsafe soon as i get into surrey the being downtown.

  23. WestenderTuesday, October 7th, 2008 — 4:55pm PDT

    Media has a tendency to take things and blow them out of porportion. And to take statements, and twist them around. I’m not saying what she said was right but, really, what does the director of the west end business improvement association have to do with the issue anyways?

    We’ve taken the spotlight off the most important issue.

  24. Ronnie BrunoSunday, February 22nd, 2009 — 3:38pm PST


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