Close to 100 people from Yellowknife’s Indian community came to city hall on Saturday to show support for farmers in their home country who they say are being exploited by three recently passed agriculture reform bills.
The afternoon also included a procession involving approximately 45 vehicles, led by the municipal enforcement division, driving through the city to raise awareness about the current plight of Indian farmers.
Hundreds of thousands of farmers in India have taken to the streets in recent weeks to protest their government’s passing of three laws that abolish the markets where farmers sell their crops to the government.
The recent reforms remove the minimum support prices for crops set by the government and makes it legal for private companies to store agricultural products to sell to consumers at market price when there is high demand.
Saturday’s demonstrators in Yellowknife say they worry about small farmers being exploited by large corporations through low prices and they’re afraid farming families may have to pay high prices for grains and other foods.
Participants say that most people of Indian heritage in Yellowknife have either a direct or indirect relation to farmers in their ancestral country.
Some estimate that Yellowknife’s Indian community includes more than 200 families and stretches back at least 30 years.
“I would say 80 per cent of the (Indian) people in Yellowknife are from a farming background,” said Satish Garikaparthi.
“This kind of support that we see today is happening all across the globe, including in the U.S., UK, Australia and New Zealand. Even in all the major towns and cities across Canada it is happening and involving people who are from Indian origin because they know the value of a farmer,” Garikaparthi said. “It is just like families in Canada who are from a farming background.”
Ranjog Virk, who was among the crowd, said he’s from a family of farmers and he understands the plight faced by food harvesters who are fighting for their livelihood in Delhi.
The Yellowknife demonstrators wanted to use Saturday’s event to send a message of international support to Indian farmers who continue protesting in the streets, and to put pressure on the Government of India to rescind the laws, Virk said.
“My father is a farmer and my grandfather was a farmer, so I came from a farmer’s background and I know their situation,” he said. “This is just a rally to show the support to our farmers who have been sitting there outside the capital Delhi for 15 days on the roads. The Indian government has used every possible method to remove them from there. They have used water cannons and tear gases, but farmers are still protesting and really you haven’t seen this big of a protest in our country without any violence.”