Dangerous Brampton 'hot spots' feared while province takes over devastated Mississauga care home

Dangerous Brampton “hot spots” feared while province takes over devastated Mississauga care home

The novel coronavirus still poses a catastrophic threat in Brampton and Mississauga, despite growing desires to ignore the pandemic. While people flock to outdoor spaces under the summer-like sunshine, local officials are warning the risk is far from over. The mounting dilemma comes as Peel Region’s public health authority waits on provincial testing instructions that could help both cities get a better handle on a local crisis that is still spreading.  



Brampton MPP pushes to resume GTA West highway study as province passes sprawl-inducing bill

Brampton MPP pushes to resume GTA West highway study as province passes sprawl-inducing bill

Amarjot Sandhu’s move to build a controversial highway puts him in good company with Mayor Patrick Brown, who thinks the project would help Brampton’s economy.

The plan also promotes sprawl — encouraging policies that appear in Doug Ford’s developer-friendly Bill 108.  



Fallout from Bill 108 puts $205M revenue at risk, could push Peel $393M deeper into debt

Fallout from Bill 108 puts $205M revenue at risk, could push Peel $393M deeper into debt

The “devastating” effects of the developer-friendly omnibus bill, as described by municipalities, did nothing to slow its passage through the Legislature last week.

Nor did critics’ doubts that it will do much to meet the stated aim of improving the supply, and lowering the cost, of housing in Ontario.

Now, Peel Region and Brampton are grappling with the significant impact of the bill’s sweeping changes to revenues and planning, many of which could mean rising property tax and utility rates for local residents. 



High school student leads charge against climate change in Brampton

High school student leads charge against climate change in Brampton

A speech by a 15-year-old student from Brampton’s Harold M. Braithwaite Secondary School pleading for action moved councillors last week to declare a climate emergency in the city.

Shailly Prajapati’s environmental passion — part of a global youth movement — began at a city event exploring ways to put the Brampton 2040 Vision document into practice.

The Pointer talked to Prajapati about her ambition to organize high school students to help green Brampton this fall by planting thousands of trees.



Mayor and MPs mum on federal funding commitments after major conference

Mayor and MPs mum on federal funding commitments after major conference

Mayor Patrick Brown and federal MPs aren’t offering any details about what they discussed together at the recent Federation of Canadian Municipalities meeting in Quebec City. But it’s clear what the city was seeking, particularly money for the council-approved LRT. Meanwhile, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie shared details about who she met with and her talking points.



Cars piling up on Brampton lawns and driveways forces city to act

Cars piling up on Brampton lawns and driveways forces city to act

City council, like many frustrated residents, is getting tired of seeing Brampton lawns and driveways filled with cars that are a blight on neighbourhoods — they are now taking action.

However, the city may have missed an opportunity to tackle an underlying issue behind sprawling driveways: illegal secondary suites.



Brampton and the planet need a council that will stop working for developers

Brampton and the planet need a council that will stop working for developers

Council has to decide if it wants to be party to an attempt by the Doug Ford PC government to return this province to the same land-use planning model that led to suburban sprawl and grinding gridlock a generation ago and hurt this city’s future prospects. We need local leaders who will stand up for what’s right for the citizens of this community while creating a workable, prosperous and eco-friendly city.



Peel’s “fragile” mental health and addictions services get a funding boost

Peel’s “fragile” mental health and addictions services get a funding boost

A $2.375-million injection from the province will help the Peel-Dufferin branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association expand police-mental health crisis teams, rapid response addiction clinics and peer support at hospitals.

But with an increase in cases across the GTA, if we’re hit by a spike in opioid emergencies like the one Peterborough just experienced, will our services be ready?



Passage of Bill 108 paves the way for massive sprawl; could cost Brampton billions

Passage of Bill 108 paves the way for massive sprawl; could cost Brampton billions

Bill 108, the provincial PCs’ legislation meant to increase housing supply in the province, is now law. The bill, rammed through this week, received royal assent Thursday, despite sharp criticism aimed at Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark and Premier Doug Ford.

Mayors, municipal officials and citizens’ groups say the bill is nothing but a giveaway to developers, will devastate city budgets and is a gateway for sprawl.



Council declares climate emergency — after backing new sprawl-inducing highway

Council declares climate emergency — after backing new sprawl-inducing highway

At Wednesday’s Brampton City Council meeting, members listened to a teenager plead for action on climate change and unanimously declared a climate emergency in the city. But they also moved to support a new GTA West Highway, which critics have said will only lead to more pollution and sprawl while causing further damage to our climate.



Across Canada and in Brampton, young men gathered before they saved the world

Across Canada and in Brampton, young men gathered before they saved the world

Our memory of D-Day on this 75th anniversary is fading, like the footsteps on Juno Beach. But the young men and women in Brampton who proudly serve their country, continue a long and storied history.



Sheridan College plans to boost Brampton’s energy efficiency, curb effects of climate change

Sheridan College plans to boost Brampton’s energy efficiency, curb effects of climate change

Brampton residents are spending $1.8 billion a year on energy to get around, heat their homes and to run industry.

Within 30 years, that could quadruple — at the same time the city is experiencing the devastating and expensive impacts of climate change.

To alter that trajectory the college is partnering with the City to create a Community Energy and Emission Reduction Plan — a program that will affect almost every aspect of our lives.



With Bill 108 about to pass, MPPs and municipalities team up to fight the developer-friendly legislation

With Bill 108 about to pass, MPPs and municipalities team up to fight the developer-friendly legislation

The More Homes, More Choices Act won’t do much to improve housing affordability, say opposition MPPs, who blasted the governing PCs for cutting off public consultation on the bill after just one day.

Instead, they say, the main beneficiaries will be developers, who get a series of breaks while cities suffer a loss of revenue and control over their own planning.



As incomes stagnate while real estate prices skyrocket, federal government invests in housing for Peel

As incomes stagnate while real estate prices skyrocket, federal government invests in housing for Peel

Some 45 families on Peel’s waiting list for affordable housing will benefit from last month’s announcement of federal funding for a new residential building.  

That’s the good news. The bad news is that’s just a drop in the bucket as more and more people across the region get squeezed out of a real estate market that does not offer prices many can afford.



Update: Councillor’s plea to Ford government for easier inspections of illegal suites draws “dumb” response

Update: Councillor’s plea to Ford government for easier inspections of illegal suites draws “dumb” response

Brampton Councillor Jeff Bowman worries that it will take a massive, fatal fire to convince the province to let local bylaw enforcers inspect illegal secondary suites without going to court first.

Prompted by the death of a 29-year-old man in a basement apartment blaze in March, Bowman wrote to the premier asking him to change the law.



Police statistics affirm fears that violent crime is on the rise in Peel Region

Police statistics affirm fears that violent crime is on the rise in Peel Region

The Peel Police annual report shows the severity of crime is increasing in the fast-growing region, continuing a pattern begun in 2014 and paralleling the urban experience across Canada.

However, Mississauga and Brampton remain safer than many other cities, with a violent crime rate well below the provincial average.

And with increases to the police budget, the number of officers per capita is going up in keeping with the region’s population boom.



Horwath tables bill to curb Ford’s power over cities, saying he meddles to take revenge

Horwath tables bill to curb Ford’s power over cities, saying he meddles to take revenge

On Monday, Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath tabled a bill that would shrink the province’s ability to act unilaterally on municipal issues.

The bill would ensure that the province do proper consultations and receive approval from municipalities before making changes to boundaries or council composition.

While unlikely to go anywhere, the bill’s intent likely has support in Brampton, where Ford is wreaking havoc on the city’s future.



The gathering of people in a downtown square reminds us that we want to be together

The gathering of people in a downtown square reminds us that we want to be together

The Toronto Raptors and the NBA are providing Brampton with an organic energy that sports can help release. It’s unifying and dizzying and for another week or so, this spring basketball run for the ages might just be a sign of even bigger and better things to come.



Mother of 6-year-old schoolgirl handcuffed by Peel police alleges racial discrimination in human rights case

Mother of 6-year-old schoolgirl handcuffed by Peel police alleges racial discrimination in human rights case

Peel Regional Police are in the hot seat again at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, in a case where a mother claims the fact her daughter is Black prompted an “excessive level of police force and brutality” that included restraints on her wrists and ankles.

Police say the 2016 incident at a Mississauga public school involved “out of control” behaviour, so the girl was handcuffed to keep her and others safe. The force is still reeling from a scathing equity-diversity audit that painted a disturbing picture of a predominantly white police department out of step with the diverse community it serves.



Part 2: The Cortelluccis – questionable deals, philanthropy and the complex world of developers

Part 2: The Cortelluccis – questionable deals, philanthropy and the complex world of developers

From the $205 million Brampton City Hall extension to land deals involving the Ontario PCs and his run for a seat in the Italian Senate, Mario Cortellucci has been a part of a string of controversies. The multi-millionaire developer doesn’t do many interviews in the mainstream media, but his name is often involved in questionable real estate transactions that usually involve municipal and provincial politicians.    



Pave paradise: $388M in city revenue at risk as Ford’s Bill 108 offers massive giveaways to developers

Pave paradise: $388M in city revenue at risk as Ford’s Bill 108 offers massive giveaways to developers

Ontario cities got a break from some of the Ford government’s draconian cuts this week, but Bill 108 looms large as a fresh threat.

Changes to development charges could mean homeowner tax increases, less green space and more concrete for big developments, and a return to less local control over planning decisions.

Those were some of the potential effects outlined for city council by Brampton staff, who are worried about the Ford government’s impact on the city’s future.



Latest jet-setting economic development strategy will once again try to lure global companies to Brampton

Latest jet-setting economic development strategy will once again try to lure global companies to Brampton

Officials and politicians will be hopping on planes a lot more often in coming months, part of a $600,000 work plan to bring corporate investment to the city.

Foreign investment and diversification of the local economy, including Canadian ventures, are crucial if Brampton is to survive the coming impact of automation, with some 288,000 residents’ jobs at risk over the next 20 years.



Ford’s about-face on municipal cuts restores millions in core service funding for Peel Region

Ford’s about-face on municipal cuts restores millions in core service funding for Peel Region

Facing a widespread backlash across Ontario, the Doug Ford PC government has stepped back from a suite of cuts to the municipal sector that would have left Peel $40 million short, compared to previous funding levels for a range of crucial services.

The turn-around means that public health, policing, early childcare and other areas of core service delivery in Peel will not be hit as hard as once thought.



KPMG report paints rosy picture of Brampton finances, finds $9 million in potential savings

KPMG report paints rosy picture of Brampton finances, finds $9 million in potential savings

Phase one of Mayor Patrick Brown’s long expected value-for-money audit is out, and it suggests Brampton is in relatively good financial shape. However, it suggests outsourcing some services and making other changes that the consultants believe will net the city $9 million in savings.



Part 1: The Cortelluccis – the power and influence of a family of developers

Part 1: The Cortelluccis – the power and influence of a family of developers

Under the Doug Ford PC government, land-use policy in Brampton and across Southern Ontario has become a critical issue. As our population continues to explode, will the rest of the region be given over to developers for more sprawl, which causes immense economic and social problems?

Developer Mario Cortellucci’s story, with his relationship to the PC government, is a cautionary tale that shows how the construction industry usually gets what it wants.



It’s hard to be engaged in a world with so many distractions

It’s hard to be engaged in a world with so many distractions

Brampton didn’t have a very good showing in the recent debate over its future. Is community and political involvement near impossible in our ‘me’ era of hyper-consumerism, with its slavish drive to replace citizenship with a different type of desire?



Peel Regional Police in the dark about provincial cuts to service

Peel Regional Police in the dark about provincial cuts to service

Provincial cuts to Peel Regional Police are expected to be as high as $2.6 million. The changes to funding come at a time when violent crime is on the rise and could limit the organization’s agility in responding to the alarming wave of crime over the past year.

The police service does not yet know how the cuts will impact service delivery.



Brampton’s economic future depends on investment, not cuts and more sprawl

Brampton’s economic future depends on investment, not cuts and more sprawl

On Thursday, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Todd Smith was in Brampton, where his current job represents exactly what the city needs to turn its fortunes around. While Smith waved the ‘Open For Business’ flag he and Premier Doug Ford carry wherever they go, it’s hard to square the PC mantra with its ongoing cuts, which critics say hurt places like Brampton that need investment in quality of life, infrastructure and education to help attract good jobs.



Peel’s new PR campaign hits back at cuts as rift between region and province grows

Peel’s new PR campaign hits back at cuts as rift between region and province grows

Peel Council joins other municipal governments across Ontario set to launch publicity campaigns to draw attention to the sweeping cuts being made by Premier Doug Ford and his PC government. Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown and other politicians have highlighted the impact the province’s moves will have on flood prevention, vaccinations, dental screening for children, early childcare and many other programs that will either lose funding or have to be protected by municipal taxpayers who will suffer most as a result of Ford’s recent cuts. He has said they are a necessity if Ontario’s out-of-control debt is to be reined in.



After $1 million in consultant’s fees, Brown and Crombie still don’t agree on the numbers; now Ford will determine region’s future

After $1 million in consultant’s fees, Brown and Crombie still don’t agree on the numbers; now Ford will determine region’s future

A tug of war over Ernst and Young’s $600,000 report on the financial outcomes of different governance models for Peel Region highlights the uncertain future for more than 1.5 million residents. Another tense council meeting Thursday, with Brampton and Mississauga members interpreting the report’s findings differently and once again unable to come to any common ground on the region’s future, likely marks the end of the local debate. It’s now up to Premier Doug Ford and his PC colleagues at Queen’s Park to decide what type of municipal structure Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon residents will be governed by in the future.



Affordable housing crunch could be eased by encouraging developers to build secondary suites

Affordable housing crunch could be eased by encouraging developers to build secondary suites

The idea of exempting builders from development charges on secondary suites was proposed at a statutory meeting, meaning it was required by law to happen, where City Council heard a swath of possible changes to the city’s development charges framework ahead of a legislated expiration of the current bylaws. If approved, changes could open the way to more affordable housing in the city, as the current market continues to shut out many buyers and renters trying to find reasonably priced accommodation.



Brampton City Council votes in support of keeping Peel Region intact

Brampton City Council votes in support of keeping Peel Region intact

Better late than never...but boy was it close. Late Tuesday evening Brampton City Council voted to endorse keeping the Region of Peel as is, with the deadline to provide feedback to the province for its looming decision on the future of the regional governance model just hours away. All input by municipalities had to be sent to Queen’s Park by 11:59 p.m. on May 21.

Council cited the cost of dissolving the region to create independent cities and the price of amalgamating them into one super-city as the reason for choosing to recommend maintaining the status quo. The results of a series of public consultations were also used as justification.



Peel school board chair says claims of fear mongering by region’s PC MPPs ‘simply untrue’

Peel school board chair says claims of fear mongering by region’s PC MPPs ‘simply untrue’

A recent exchange of letters between members of the PC government and Peel educators reveals the candid disagreement over the way proposed cuts to education are being handled. The provincial government says many in the education system are fear mongering, creating anxiety about teacher losses and sweeping classroom changes that are being exaggerated. Educators have fired back against Peel PC MPPs, saying that teacher layoffs will be a reality while students will lose key educational options as certain classes will have to be cut.



More than 3,000 patients treated in hallways at Brampton Civic Hospital last year

More than 3,000 patients treated in hallways at Brampton Civic Hospital last year

The problem of overcrowding inside the city’s only full-service hospital continues, though the numbers, which have steadily increased since 2012, came down during the previous year.

Documents obtained through a freedom of information request show that in 2012 just over a thousand patients had to be treated in makeshift spaces inside Brampton Civic Hospital, compared to 3,035 in 2018.

Despite the popularizing of the term ‘hallway healthcare’ in Brampton, the previous Liberal government and the current PC government at Queen’s Park have done little to fix the crisis.



Chaotic scramble to get $660,000 consultant’s report to province ahead of its deadline for feedback on future of Peel Region

Chaotic scramble to get $660,000 consultant’s report to province ahead of its deadline for feedback on future of Peel Region

By the end of the workday Tuesday, a finalized consultant’s report commissioned by Peel Region to provide crucial feedback about its future to the province still wasn’t ready.

The entire handling of the region’s position regarding the possibility of its dissolution has been poorly managed since the Doug Ford government’s surprise launch of the potentially game-changing regional review in January.

It’s unlikely councillors and the public will get to even see the consultant’s work before it goes to the province, if it’s ready ahead of the midnight deadline.



Update: Last-minute council meeting will reveal city’s position on regional governance review hours before provincial deadline

Update: Last-minute council meeting will reveal city’s position on regional governance review hours before provincial deadline

Brampton residents are invited to a last-minute special meeting City Council is holding Tuesday evening to reveal its official stance on the regional governance review being carried out by the Doug Ford PC government. The meeting takes place the same day as the deadline to provide feedback to the province, before it decides on the future of Peel and other regions. In an eleventh-hour move, regional councillors called for a sweeping $660,000 financial analysis by an external firm to determine the implications of the different options for Peel that are on the table. It’s unclear if that work will be finished ahead of the province’s looming deadline for feedback before it makes its decision.



Brampton is getting really tired of the lip service

Brampton is getting really tired of the lip service

The cheerleading out of City Hall this past week, about the latest “plan” to do great things, is another example of leadership that seems out of touch with reality.

As a $160 million downtown project keeps changing shape, with the public in the dark about what exactly their money is being used for, the classic scene from the 1976 movie, Network, comes to mind: “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this anymore!”



Will Brampton become a ‘Perfect City’?

Will Brampton become a ‘Perfect City’?

A new book by urban planner Joe Berridge suggests immigration is the key to creating urban spaces that come as close to perfect as possible. If that’s true, our rapidly expanding municipality will be able to capture the energy of its transformation and the dynamism of its people, once we get past the growing pains.



Library board concerned about cost, lack of community input on shifting plan for innovation centre

Library board concerned about cost, lack of community input on shifting plan for innovation centre

High hopes have been pinned on the Centre for Innovation and the collaborative space it would provide entrepreneurs. But it is becoming clearer that the vaguely defined innovation space that was supposed to be a direct collaboration with the now cancelled Ryerson University downtown campus, will be something much different than what was originally envisioned. Questions are being raised about why council approved $100 million in the 2019 budget for the project without knowing what the plan is. Meanwhile, the library board is raising concern that the public has not been properly consulted on the changing plan.



Amid council cheerleading for Main St. LRT, no money has been committed for the potential $1.7 billion cost  

Amid council cheerleading for Main St. LRT, no money has been committed for the potential $1.7 billion cost  

At Wednesday’s committee of council meeting, councillors addressed some key details about the city’s hopes to build an LRT into downtown.

While questions about its design are being addressed, council and staff are doing the work in blind faith, as the project likely won’t move forward without funding from higher levels of government, which Mayor Patrick Brown is set to start lobbying for.



‘Canada will be under sharia law,’ former Mississauga mayoral candidate says after being ordered to pay $2.5M for defaming restaurateur

‘Canada will be under sharia law,’ former Mississauga mayoral candidate says after being ordered to pay $2.5M for defaming restaurateur

Anti-Muslim agitator Kevin Johnston has been ordered to pay $2.5 million in damages regarding derogatory remarks against restaurant owner and philanthropist Mohamad Fakih.

The “hateful Islamophobic remarks” in a 2017 video outside a Paramount restaurant in Mississauga were only the latest in a series of anti-Muslim activities by Johnston.



‘Innovation centre’ may be more of a central library and cost $30M extra

‘Innovation centre’ may be more of a central library and cost $30M extra

The long-touted but vaguely defined Centre for Innovation planned for downtown Brampton might end up being a lot different from what the public envisioned. Wednesday’s committee of council agenda shows that more than 81 percent of the usable floor space will be dedicated to a central library.

The initial $100 million investment in the project may balloon to as high as $160 million as staff are seeking $30 million to add five floors to the building and another $30 million for a “transit hub” extension to the Brampton GO terminal.



Life and politics: the two worlds of Sara Singh

Life and politics: the two worlds of Sara Singh

Death and perseverance.

They’re part of the story of Brampton Centre MPP Sara Singh’s election victory.

But there’s an even deeper story to what drew her into politics, and what fires her up at Queen’s Park when it’s time to speak for the Opposition as the NDP Deputy Leader.



Region takes steps to help survivors of human trafficking with new shelter spaces

Region takes steps to help survivors of human trafficking with new shelter spaces

A $1.8-million Peel Region program will provide a one-stop hub for services for victims of human trafficking, plus emergency shelter and long-term transitional housing spaces to help them get back to a normal life.

Providing these supports is especially critical in Peel, which for reasons of geography has become a hotbed of sex trafficking in Canada.

The region hopes to get some financial support from Queen’s Park, but it’s uncertain if the current government is likely to provide it.



A renaissance for Brampton’s public libraries

A renaissance for Brampton’s public libraries

Do Brampton libraries hold the answers to the woes of a growing city?

The business model and the offerings have changed, but libraries still perform a vital role as community hubs, despite Brampton’s historically underfunded system.

A central library downtown could just be part of a solution to more than one problem.



Ontario municipalities where the PCs get their power should fight Doug Ford

Ontario municipalities where the PCs get their power should fight Doug Ford

The Michael Fenn-Ken Seiling travelling road show criss-crossing the province and discussing possible changes to the regional governance model, touched down in Brampton this past week. Is it simply window-dressing for the Ford government or will municipalities that hold the lion’s share of political leverage with the PCs (86 percent of the party’s seats are outside Toronto) stand up to the Premier on a range of issues such as allowing development in The Greenbelt, environmental protection and others that will impact our province for decades?



As Brampton grapples with its transportation future, can it escape its past?

As Brampton grapples with its transportation future, can it escape its past?

The Ford government is trafficking in a new-old way of doing business that encourages sprawl and will further fill our streets with grinding gridlock. Brampton's car-dependent past and present looks to have a dicey future if unfettered growth spills into our streets. Can the city become more transit friendly, or should we simply admit the obvious: we are in love with our cars?

On a day when City Hall is filled with discussion about the future of ‘active transportation’, many wonder if Brampton really wants to change.



Ernst & Young’s $660,000 report on impact of altering Peel Region likely to be a day late and a dollar short

Ernst & Young’s $660,000 report on impact of altering Peel Region likely to be a day late and a dollar short

After much doubt about the quality of a $325,000 Deloitte report, it appears that Ernst & Young’s council-mandated follow-up work on the cost of potential changes to regional government is likely to miss the province’s May 21 deadline for submissions on the regional review. Peel Chair Nando Iannicca was once again on the hot seat, as councillors voiced frustration over the bungling of the outside consulting work.

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown suggested that the controversial Deloitte report be the submission if Ernst & Young’s comes in too late. Mississauga councillors were having none of that idea.



Filmmaker Gurinder Chadha’s voice offers a universal message for South Asian diasporas separated by an ocean

Filmmaker Gurinder Chadha’s voice offers a universal message for South Asian diasporas separated by an ocean

The British writer and director best known for Bend it like Beckham has focused her career on exploring the dualities of identity experienced by the South Asian diaspora in Britain and, by extension, around the world.

Her latest film, Blinded by the Light, kicked off the International Film Festival of South Asia Thursday. It tells the story of a Pakistani-British high school boy in the ‘80s, frustrated by forces looking to define him, who finds salvation in the music of Bruce Springsteen.

The movie’s message finds an audience in Brampton where a huge South Asian diaspora can identify with the struggles of her main character, Javed.



Brampton residents a no-show at meeting with regional government review advisers

Brampton residents a no-show at meeting with regional government review advisers

Michael Fenn and Ken Seiling, Premier Doug Ford’s advisers on the regional review, were at Peel Region council chambers on Wednesday to get resident feedback. While Caledon and Mississauga were represented, Bramptonians were silent.

Even though a tele-townhall conducted in Brampton last week showed that there were strong opinions on the review in the Flower City, no one at the meeting voiced an opinion on Brampton’s behalf.



‘Shocking’ $45M in provincial cuts could mean 8% hike in regional taxes

‘Shocking’ $45M in provincial cuts could mean 8% hike in regional taxes

Decreased funding for important services such as public health and early years childcare could cost Peel Region residents $45 million.

Peel’s director of business and financial planning says that amount alone amounts to a 4.1 percent hike, on top of current tax projections, just to keep services at current levels.

After a radical suggestion from Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown to suspend prisoner transport to grab public attention, Peel council took a milder approach: an advocacy campaign to inform the public about the effects of the province’s actions.



A film about forbidden love in a country struggling with its barbaric caste system kicks off South Asian film festival

A film about forbidden love in a country struggling with its barbaric caste system kicks off South Asian film festival

The International Film Festival of South Asia, the largest of its kind in North America, is set to kick-off this Thursday. Sir, a film that challenges entrenched attitudes about women in India and the staggering treatment of its underclass, set the tone for this year’s event when it pre-launched the festival.

It’s about a maid, or servant, in India and her place within the rigidly regimented caste system that girds the world’s largest democracy, where about 900-million residents are members of historically marginalized groups.