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Please log in to bookmark this story. Brampton — a. On our street of new semi-detached houses, I see brown and black families, mostly immigrants. Strip malls consist almost entirely of Indian-only grocers, stores selling fancy South Asian clothes and sweet shops. My drive home off Highway is lined with palatial Sikh gurdwaras, a monumental Hindu mandir and a soon-to-be-built mosque — the only church in the area is a tiny historic landmark.
At the walk-in clinic, brown and black families. At Service Ontario on a weekend, 30 people in line — only two are white and they are related. At the nearby library, an entire section carved out for Punjabi and Hindi books. And on Diwali, the night sky above Gore Road is lit up on both sides, crackling with competing fireworks displays. On any given day, groups of women in colourful shalwar kameez tunic and baggy pants stroll vigorously along the sidewalk, getting in their daily exercise.
Men in brightly hued turbans and flowing white beards bike to the neighbourhood park to hang out with friends. Sometimes, I wonder if I live in India or Canada.
But I am not complaining. For someone who has lived her entire life as a minority — and a very visible one, thanks to the hijab covering my hair — this environment is a welcome change. I am with my own kind. Nearly 40 per cent of Brampton is South Asian, with Sikhs making up almost 20 per cent of the population. What are the top four languages spoken in Brampton after English? Punjabi speakers make up 19 per cent of the town, Urdu 3. Who needs a neighbourhood 7-Eleven when all my favourite comfort food is a stroll away?
Need to get your legs waxed or your eyebrows threaded? I am part of the non-white majority. The brown people who live here love Brampton. Yet even as we revel in this urban enclave, we know in our hearts that the Brampton that is emerging is not a good thing. Gang members are not opening fire at children playing on sidewalks. So if Brampton is not a ghetto, what is it? Outside the Vancouver suburb of Surrey, as well as London, England, the Brampton area is considered to be home to one of the largest Sikh communities outside of India.