Trying times for some Guyanese in Canada
-man believes he's target of hate crime
Stabroek News
May 4, 2004

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An explosion, a shooting death and a report on suburban poverty; sounds like a round-up of recent news events in Guyana. But in fact these are news reports in which Guyanese in Canada have recently featured.

Peter Ally, 30, had his wooden pallet company Central Pallet, damaged in an explosion on March 28. A report in the Toronto Star said Ally had migrated to Canada over a decade ago and he and his wife Shelly had put their life's savings into the business, which was set up in an industrial plaza just last April. Fortunately, there were no injuries, but the blast caused more than Cdn$200,000 in damage.

The newspaper said swastikas (a Nazi sign) had been spray-painted on the walls of the building earlier and that Ally, a resident of Vaughan, North York had been threatened in recent weeks. Ally told the Toronto Star that his truck had been vandalised and he had received threatening phone calls.

According to the report, the police were checking whether the explosion was linked to a hate crime, in the course of their investigations.

Paul Rampersaud has been receiving telephone calls which accuse him of killing someone, since a 20-year-old Trinidadian-Canadian woman was shot to death just inside the front door of her house, after a night of partying at his club on March 20.

Rampersaud moved to Toronto from Guyana in 1974 and opened Calypso Hut 2, a family-owned restaurant and nightclub in Brampton. His father had started the Calypso Hut restaurants in Guyana in Regent Street and Kitty, which subsequently went out of business.

According to a report in the Toronto Star, the Calypso Hut 2 has a history of being connected with violent incidents and it cited vandalism and stabbing incidents in 1997, a murder in 1999 and a shooting in 2001.

The Star said Amretta Singh, 20, and her brother and cousin were followed home from the club at or around 2.30 am by the assailants with whom it was believed they might have had an altercation. The young woman's brother managed to get the door open, but as they entered, the gunman opened fire and bullets pierced the door hitting Amretta in the lip and abdomen. She died hours later in hospital, the newspaper said.

Forty-five-year old Pauline Stewart, who has been stricken with a mysterious illness which causes severe fatigue and makes her unable to walk, is the subject of a poverty report in the same newspaper.

The Star said the Guyanese single-parent mother of three has been ill since she collapsed on a subway platform four years ago. The former bank employee has two grown sons, but now ekes out a living for herself and nine-year-old daughter on Cdn$1,075 social assistance and Cdn$230 baby bonus from the Canadian government.

Stewart is a resident of the Mabelle-Cordova corridor, a project-like settlement in Etobicoke, which has been named as one of Toronto's poorest neighbourhoods in the United Way's Poverty by Postal Code report.

According to the newspaper, after paying her rent Stewart is left with some Cdn$300 a month to cover food, clothes and telephone bill. She said she survives by paying the rent in instalments, buying bulk groceries and shopping at second-hand stores. The Star said Stewart would rather go without milk than pay an extra Cdn$1 for a litre and rations her medication by skipping days, in order for it to last a month. But she is proud that she is living "a decent life", contributing voluntarily to a children's centre she helped to create six years ago and that she has raised her two sons to be gentlemen.