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by Sumeet Dhami and Eden Debebe

Many activists, community members and city officials say the mainstream media coverage of mounting COVID-19 cases in Brampton unfairly blames local residents.

Some social media voices have turned to blaming Brampton’s residents for the mounting case-count, despite many officials pointing to the social and economic barriers in place putting people in high-risk situations.

Arashdeep Chahal and Amanpreet Brar are looking to change that conversation and shed light on the situation with Humans in Brampton, a social media initiative showcasing frontline workers and other members of the community.

According to Chahal, the precarious jobs that many residents in the area have makes them more susceptible to contracting COVID-19, something she said many people living outside of Brampton don’t realize.

“The stories we want to share are the stories of essential workers, people who work in warehouses, factories, truck drivers. We know transportation and food processing are the biggest sectors in Brampton, so we really want to recognize the unique challenges people face…share the reality of the situation, not what the mainstream media is focusing on.”

Chahal said she and Brar were inspired to start Humans in Brampton after seeing their community being misrepresented and blamed for the high rate of COVID-19 in the region.

“This came as a reaction to the misrepresentation of Bramptonians in mainstream media, specifically during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Chahal said.

“We didn’t feel like it was enough to just post on our stories and talk to our friends….we really want to hand this over to people in the community in the sense that we want to give a voice to the community themselves, in an unbiased way.”

In the future, Chahal wants to use their social media platform to inspire policy change in Brampton by bringing the main issues surrounding front line workers in the city to local officials and MPs.

“Our goal from all of this is to recognize the unique challenges [Bramptonians face] – once we realize ‘okay, what are the big issues?’ we want to give that information to the right people in the community like our MPs, our lawyers, and things like that. So they can do the right policy work that is needed.

Looking closer to home, Chahal said she hopes Humans in Brampton is able to change the conversation around COVID-19 in mainstream media and give residents a platform to share their stories.

You can share your stories with Humans in Brampton on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.