Some international students at Durham College fear for their family’s safety in India, even if they feel safe here in Canada.
Tensions have been rising between Canada and India since Prime Minister Trudeau suggested a link between the Indian government and the death of Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Canadian soil.
Prerna Nair, an Advertising and Promotion student from India, isn’t worried for herself as much as she is for her family back at home.
“Honestly, I was worried because of the specific incident that is happening,” she said. “I was in Punjab, though I am not a Punjabi, and my parents still live there so my first concern wasn’t about me so I was more worried about what is happening back at home.”
Having family back home creates stress for Nair as they are constantly worried about her because of what they are seeing on the news at home.
“I have just been trying to reassure them that there is no immediate issue, especially in my area, but they are still worried and trying to avoid the news, like me,” she said.
Thom MacDonald, the dean of International Education, has been overseeing Durham College’s response to concerns about student safety.
“It impacts individuals differently,” he said. “There might be some students who it’s impacting far more profoundly than others so we just reminded them that we are here, there is comprehensive support available whether they need to reach out.”
While some students seem to be worried, MacDonald says he has heard “very few concerns” from students overall.
“There have been questions but I wouldn’t say that there is an overwhelming amount of concern,” he said. “People as individuals are concerned about this situation but they don’t necessarily see it as affecting their studies.”
Nair feels Durham College is doing a good job in terms of keeping Indian students safe.
“Receiving the mails about the safety and security, that is really reassuring when you are hearing all this news 24/7 and you randomly receive a mail that you don’t need to worry about it we got you so that feels good,” said Nair.
Stress for family members back home has been a concern for students such as her. She has her own way to destress.
“I am someone who practises meditation, breathing exercises, that is my only safe space for now aside from hanging out with friends,” she said.