Vernon councillor shows support for Indian farmers

Supporting Indian farmers

A Vernon city councillor is showing her support for farmers who are protesting in India.

Dalvir Nahal, who has deeply-rooted ancestral ties to her family's land in India, is using her platform to shed some light on the issue.

"This is one the biggest peaceful protests in human history, and I feel its important to educate everyone how close to home it is and impacts everyone’s lives," says Nahal. "It's hard to see 80-year-olds braving the cold and fighting for the future of their children and grandchildren – it literally brings tears to my eyes."

From chai tea, shrimp, nutrigrain cereals and textiles, a number of everyday items used in North America come directly from India. According to the World Trade Organization, Canada imports $350 million worth of agricultural products from India each year.

"When I was growing up, every time we went to India my dad made sure to show us where our land was, and he always did it with such a sense of pride," says Nahal.

"The relationship that a farmer has with their land goes beyond their livelihoods – it's sacred relationship. It’s a sense of pride and a means to prosperity. This land has enabled generations of Sikhs to travel, migrate and succeed all over the world."

Indian farmers have been protesting three farm acts made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that were passed in Indian Parliament in September. The farmers say these laws will drive down their products' prices while offering no safety nets to protect them from corporate takeover, while the government claims these laws will provide the farmers with more freedom.

"These bills will weed out small farmers and increase their debt load, which would force them to sell to large corporations," says Nahal. "Speaking to farmers in Vernon, we see the same thing happening here – the large packing houses are dictating the price of apples, yet it’s the farmers taking all the risks and losses."

Nahal hopes to bring attention to the issue, as it is something that is very important to her and millions of people around the world.

"Besides sending money and holding our own protests, at this point there isn’t much we can do," she says. "This is why bringing awareness is important."

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