Reimagining Our Future: Why I’m Running for Vancouver City Council

By Taqdir Kaur Bhandal

Taqdir Kaur Bhandal, Vancouver City Council Candidate 2018.
Photo by Saman Sariati.

“Until 1947, South Asian Canadians were denied the right to vote. I strongly believe that city council and other levels of government should be representative of Canada’s ethnocultural diversity.”

On October 20, 2018, civic elections will be held across BC. Taqdir Kaur Bhandal tells us why she’s running for Vancouver City Council, why you should vote for her. 

This past summer, I participated in a walking tour through Vancouver’s west side. Where there are now multi-million dollar homes and condominiums by the foot of Burrard Street bridge, once stood the Second Avenue Gurdwara. This was the first Sikh temple in British Columbia and it was the onshore epicentre for resistance against the racism that eventually illegally turned away the Komagata Maru and the 376 colonized Indians from docking in the city.

Despite encountering every form of resistance, our elders who first migrated to this country flourished over the last century resulting in a vibrant South Asian diaspora. Inspired by the resilience of my elders and how they worked together to forge ahead in difficult circumstances, I am running as an independent candidate for Vancouver city council.

It has been almost fifty years since a person of South Asian descent served on council – V Setty Pendakur still remains the first and only South Asian to be elected to Vancouver city council in 1972. And until 1947, South Asian Canadians were denied the right to vote. I strongly believe that city council and other levels of government should be representative of Canada’s ethnocultural diversity.

With your support, I plan to be the first South Asian woman to have a seat at the table. Eligible voters can choose 1-10 names for city council and I hope that you will choose me as one of your ten choices.

Briefly, my platform centers the connection between social justice and environmental justice. If elected, I plan to bring the following agenda items to the city council table:

  1. Drastically increase supply and access to rental housing.
  2. Grow transportation that works together to include pedestrians, bikes, transit, and cars.
  3. Promote social equity and safety that reflects the ethnocultural diversity of Vancouver.
  4. Take better care of the health of our local natural environment and earth.
  5. Work with Vancouver Public Library, School Board, and Parks Board to increase the number of childcare spaces at a subsidy for lower-income families.

The outcome of the 2018 election is perhaps one of the most important in recent history. More and more people are moving to Vancouver only to be met with expensive housing options and low paying employment.

At the same time, there is a global need to change our reliance on consuming plastic, burning gas, and using other resources in ways that are harmful to the earth so the next generation can thrive.

This means that elders and children require ethnoculturally safe care and working age people need jobs with fair wages that can keep up with the rising cost of living.

It also means updating consumer practices such as providing compost and recycling facilities on all public property, allowing clotheslines in all buildings and decreasing the amount of waste produced by all members of our community.

Inspired by youth-led movements such as Jugni Style, the Nameless Collective Podcast, Didihood, and South Asian Arts, my campaign takes the approach of 21st-century creative ideas to the toughest issues in Vancouver.

I don’t believe there is one right solution, rather city councillors will have to work as a team to apply research and recommendations from the community to municipal actions.

I will be working diligently to get my name out and also need your support to do so. Most importantly, all eligible voters will need to show up at voting stations in large numbers on advanced voting days (October 10-17) and on election day (October 20). For more information on how to vote in Vancouver visit my website or vancouver.ca/vote.

Now more than ever, diverse communities will need to exercise our rights to vote to ensure that our voices and ideas are included in positions of power. This movement requires us to draw on Southern/Eastern, Northern/Western, and Indigenous ancestral practices to re-imagine our future.

Taqdir Kaur Bhandal is running as an independent candidate for Vancouver City Council. Follow her on twitter @taqforcouncil.