Monika Sidhu: Brampton Rallies In Support of Punjab's Farmers and Women
A day before International Women’s Day, KisaanRally.Brampton and others chose to show solidarity with farmers, women, and the intersection between them
March 8, 2021 | 5 min. read
When Prabhjot Bedi attended his first farmers’ rally in early December of last year, he could not help but feel that he should organize something in Brampton in solidarity with those demonstrating outside Delhi.
The 22-year old automotive technician says the feeling would not leave him alone at the time and he was ready to make something happen.
“I contacted my friends, my cousins, and I said ‘I’m planning on doing a rally, would you guys come out and support it?’”
Thankfully for Bedi, the answer was yes. And so, On Dec. 20, 2020, within two weeks of attending his first rally, he and his friend Sim Kaler put together the KisaanRally.Brampton Instagram page and successfully pulled off their first rally to support the farmers’ protests in India.
They told themselves then that there would be more rallies to come.
On Sunday, they held their second rally with the help of several other community organizers, such as KisaanUnion.to. However, this time around the rally would highlight and show solidarity with the women behind the movement.
India’s farmers’ protest, which is fighting against three bills threatening the sector and livelihoods, has officially surpassed 100 days. While the fight is being fought by all, it is necessary to look at the role women play through raising their voices because the repercussions are always much direr.
And so, a day before International Women’s Day, KisaanRally.Brampton and others chose to show solidarity with farmers, women, and the intersection between them.
Bedi says that women do not deserve to go without recognition through this time.
“Our main focus is to show that we support everyone, doesn’t matter who you are, but especially women. They play a higher level of responsibility in all our lives and within farming. If you’ve heard, back home, with more of our grandpas and brothers coming to Delhi, women back home are the ones working in the fields and they play such an important role,” says Bedi.
“There are women who are sitting on the streets of Delhi protesting against these farm laws and it’s very important that these individuals are recognized.”
The rally, which took place on a crisp and sunny day in Brampton, started at Bramalea City Centre and commenced with prayer, chants, distributing masks, applying car decals, and handing out purple ribbons in solidarity with the women protesting across Punjab and India. All of which set the tone for the day ahead.
Rally-goers then drove to the second meeting spot at Shoppers World and from there walked on foot to downtown Brampton’s Garden Square where organizers had women speakers to address the crowd.
Model and influencer Remedie Brar, who worked alongside Bedi, was one of the driving forces in establishing how to incorporate the importance of women into this most recent rally.
Like Bedi, Brar has been actively volunteering since the first rally she attended last year. She says that the events of the farmers’ protest are something that brought her closer to her roots as a Punjabi woman, something she says she was starting to detach from before the protest reconnected her.
“I felt I was so unattached from our Punjabi culture but I think these rallies, going there, meeting people, hearing stuff about our culture, about our heritage, like even in general about India, it makes you realize that the culture is so rich”
The intersection of women and the farmers’ protest is something that she has reflected on often and she hopes that she can use her platform to bring attention to. The 28-year-old says amplifying women’s voices helps “to highlight the women in India, they’ve been sitting there since day one,” she says.
Brar’s efforts also included distributing sanitary pads, contributing funds collected to a Brampton women’s shelter, and ending Sunday's rally with a place for all women attendees to plant a flower.
It was a beautiful way to conclude a seamless rally.
In the end, hundreds came out for the Sunday rally and everyone contributed to a well-executed gathering of people.
“Organizing all of these rallies, coordinating, I realized there’s so much that goes into this. It’s not just a single person, it’s a whole group of individuals, it takes a whole team to put this rally together,” says Bedi.
One of Bedi’s roles was to act as the pointperson in coordinating with Peel Police - something that was important for ensuring traffic was moving safely but also because of rising tensions between supporters of the farmers’ protest and supporters of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the RSS, and his Hindu Nationalist government. Just last weekend, Pro-Modi supporters decided to take to the streets of Brampton in their very own car rally.
“If anyone comes to our rally who may not be in support of us we’ll open-heartedly welcome them in, give them langar, give them water, all with the warmth we are known to give”, Bedi said the night before the rally.
Ultimately the protest was very peaceful, aside from some intense megaphones and some loud car speakers. Since then he has been able to breathe a little easier.
While plans for the next rally are still up in the air, there are plans to reach out to non-Punjabi communities in an approachable way that allows them to learn about what is happening.
“Canada is multicultural, Brampton is multicultural and we want every single person doesn’t matter who you are, Punjabi or not, this is not a religious fight, it’s a fight for human rights, it’s a fight for farmers’ living, it's a fight for basic human rights. We want everyone to feel included,” says Bedi.
Monika Sidhu is a journalist based out of Brampton. She covers topics of arts, culture, and social justice. More recently, she graduated with a Master of Media in Journalism and Communication from Western University. You can find her on Twitter at @MonikaSidhuu.
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