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Community rallies behind international student assaulted in Kelowna

With support from locals, the international student has been able to receive health care
Gagandeep Singh, 21, surrounded by friends after being attacked at a bus stop in Kelowna in March 2023. (GoFundMe)

Kelowna city councillor and Indo-Canadian Mohini Singh says the attack on a young international student at a Kelowna bus stop Friday night has her in shock.

“I had to see it for myself. I went to see him and he was lying on his bed with his eyes literally closed. I put my hand on his arm and asked how he was and he could barely talk.”

Gagandeep Singh, 21, was attacked after using city transit to return home from the grocery store. His turban was ripped off and he was beaten and dragged by his hair by 15 to 20 people.

READ MORE: UPDATE: ‘Investigate attack on international student as a hate crime’: Kelowna Sikh community

“I spoke to a couple of lawyers… and they said it falls within that definition [of a hate crime], but now it’s in the hands of the RCMP.”

Mohini says it’s not part of the city’s mandate to support the victim, but many people have stepped up to help, whether it be from donations to the GoFundMe page or phone calls to higher people for action.

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick said once he heard the young man left Kelowna General Hospital over fears of medical bills, he did what any MLA would do.

“One (call) to the Minister of Health and one to the CEO of the Interior Health Authority and I asked them if they could be of any assistance. I got a phone call back from the CEO of Interior Health and a text back from the minister, and the CEO basically said if he has a health issue he should go back to emergency and not have to worry about not having health coverage.”

Gagandeep received care at KGH Sunday evening before returning home to rest.

“This is quite unusual for our country and our province and our city and I hope it never happens again,” Letnick said.

“For those people out there that were involved, I would expect that once the police have done their investigation they’ll be getting a phone call or a knock on the door. If I was them I would probably go to the police myself ahead of time and express some remorse and go from there.”

Gagandeep is in Kelowna as an international student at Focus College.

Vice President of Operations Brian Schumacher says he has spoken with Gagandeep and assured him not to worry about his classes right now.

“When I first chatted with Gagandeep he was concerned about his classes and I said there’s nothing to worry about there.”

Schumacher says this isn’t something anyone can plan for and no student should have to go through.

“He’s extremely fortunate to be surrounded by people who care, that was very evident. And it’s not just the folks in his immediate vicinity, but there’s a community here that’s making sure that Gagandeep is going to get the care, the aftercare that he needs once the physical harm has been dealt with.”

READ MORE: ‘Hate crime committed by cowards’: Okanagan MP outraged over attack on international student


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Brittany Webster

About the Author: Brittany Webster

I am a video journalist based in Kelowna and capturing life in the Okanagan
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