Vancouver City Councillor Jean Swanson was presented with the Radical Desi medal of courage by members of Indians Abroad for Pluralist India (IAPI) on Thursday, April 15.
Swanson had recently brought a motion in support of the Indian farmers who have been camping outside New Delhi for the past several months.
The agitating farmers are opposing the controversial laws passed by the right wing Hindu nationalist government, which many believe threaten the livelihood of the peasantry.
The motion that strongly expressed solidarity with the Indian farmers was passed by a majority vote.
Partly due to pressure from the pro-India lobby, the motion was watered down and directed the Mayor of Vancouver to write to the federal and provincial governments asking them to intervene.
Swanson, who is a well-known social justice advocate, had earlier brought a motion against India’s infamous Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that discriminates against Muslim refugees coming from the neighbouring countries.
However, she was forced to withdraw that motion because of a backlash from the Indian consulate and lack of support from others in the city council. Even the Khalsa Diwan Society, the oldest Sikh body in the city, known for its loyalties toward the Indian government, and which had vehemently opposed Swanson’s motion against the CAA, supported her motion in solidarity with the farmers .
Formed in response to growing attacks on religious minorities and political dissidents in India, IAPI believes that Swanson has shown courage by standing up for those suffering repression in the world’s so-called largest democracy.
Radical Desi is an online magazine that covers alternative politics and a media partner of IAPI. It had established the medal of courage back in 2018 to honour those who have stood up for the oppressed.
Due to COVID 19 restrictions, the ceremony was kept brief and small. IAPI President Parshotam Dosanjh presented her with the medal right outside the Vancouver City Hall, in the presence of two other members of the group, Rakesh Kumar and Gurpreet Singh.