Chilliwack Mounties are asking the author of a number of overtly racist emails aimed at the South Asian community to come forward.
The owners of two local Indian restaurants, Shandhar Hut and The Bay Leaf, got the same anonymous email last week that insulted their food and said "we do not like the presence of East Indians in our towns or schools."
The general manager of Chilliwack Taxi also received a racist email last week but didn't report it to police until he heard news reports about the restaurants.
On Feb. 26, Kuldeep Singh received an email saying the company needs to stop hiring East Indians to drive cabs.
"Not only are you losing out on customers (and I do know a great deal of people that refuse your service and would rather walk or take public transportation) but you are giving these people a reason to migrate to Chilliwack," said the writer using a Hushmail.com email address.
"I may sound like a bigot/racist and just an overall asshole but these are facts with PROOF."
Singh said he didn't take the email seriously until he learned that other businesses had similar messages specific to South Asians.
"It is offensive and scary," Singh told the Times. "I have been myself 10 years in Chilliwack. . . . I have my family and children here and we are concerned about these kinds of racist things."
He also said he is concerned for his drivers who often pick up drunk passengers late at night in the taxis that have no barrier between front and back seats.
Two days after the Chilliwack Taxi email, the same email address was the source of a hateful email directed at the owners of Chilliwack's only two Indian food restaurants.
"I promise you, if your restaurant stays in Chilliwack, it will never succeed," the Feb. 28 email said. "Tell your people this is not a good place for them. . . . Your people come from a third-world India living in mud houses and drinking cow piss and bathing in milk."
The Bay Leaf owner Sumit Gulati contacted the police who contacted the letter writer. Gulati then received three more email messages in which the anonymous writer said he or she was sorry.
"I would like to apologize for the idiotic and hateful e-mail I sent recently. . . . I was having a very bad day, business is slow and have some mental health issues I need to resolve."
Gulati said he has also recently had eggs thrown at his house and chicken bones dumped on his doorstep. All men involved, however, said racism in Chilliwack is very rare in their experience.
While it is unclear any crime has been committed, Chilliwack RCMP are investigating and have consulted with the BC Hate Crimes Unit.
"The Chilliwack RCMP would like to speak to the author of these emails and are asking him or her to come forward," Cpl. Tammy Hollingsworth said in a press release. "Anonymous apologies don't mean much when they don't hold any weight behind them."
There has been a strong outpouring of support for the affected businesses on social media and through emails and phone calls.
Cash Mob Chilliwack has organized an event for this Friday at both The Bay Leaf and Shandhar Hut. Cash mobs involve a group of people descending on a locally owned business to give them an influx of customers and raise awareness.
Due to the possible overwhelming nature of hitting restaurants in this way, both eateries were asked in advance if they could handle the group and they agreed.
"We organized our first three Cash Mobs as a way to say thanks and reward the commitment made by local businesses to our community," co-organizer Dale Johnson said. "Our primary focus is still the same, but we wanted to use this opportunity to organize, on behalf of the people of Chilliwack, a way to show that we also are a friendly place to do business and this kind of intolerance and hate will not be accepted."
The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) also expressed concern about the racist emails sent to the local businesses, but were happy to see the businesses supported.
"We’re glad to hear that the Chilliwack restaurant owners who were targeted have received widespread support from their local community," WSO president Prem Singh Vinning said in an emailed statement. "It’s important that all Canadians stand united against hatred. We expect that the RCMP will fully investigate the emails and action will be taken against the writers.”
For more Information on Cash Mob Chilliwack visit facebook.com/CashMobChilliwack.
Anyone with any information about the racist emails or anyone who might be the victim of a similar incident are asked to call the Chilliwack RCMP at 604-792-4611 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).