A new permanent resident, Suresh Ommi immigrated from India and has been in Toronto for just one month. From Monday to Friday, he works at a bank. On weekends, he works the night shift at a grocery store.
But what began as a bright and beautiful morning is suspected of turning ugly when Ommi was heading home Sunday at 6 a.m. According to Ommi, he was waiting at a streetcar stop on Queens Quay when he saw two men on bikes watching him intently from across the road.
“They just stopped at that point exactly, that point opposite to me, and that guy made a completely inappropriate hand gesture, something like a handgun, and he wants to like shoot me,” Ommi told CBC News.
Ommi said he tried not to pay them any attention, but then one of them eventually approached him.
“He came towards me, he got off the bike and came here right in front of my face, and he said, ‘You … Sri Lankan, go back to your country.'”
Ommi said the man — who he estimates to be around 20 years old — followed up with a threat of violence.
Before that happened, a streetcar arrived and Ommi rushed on. He said one of the men followed the streetcar on his bike, but when it descended into Union Station, he figured he was finally safe.
“I thought that it was over then and there,” Ommi said. But he said that when he entered the station, he came upon the same man.
“He was over here, he was about to assault me,” he said. “I was going to the TTC staff for help and he kicked me in the back.”
Perhaps the most jarring part of the ordeal for Ommi is that it happened in Canada.
“I am stunned. I am completely helpless,” he said with exasperation.
“This is something I never expected. Canada is one of the safest countries in the whole world,” he continued.
“I never expected this kind of racial slur.”
Toronto police told CBC News they are investigating the alleged assault and will be looking to review any surveillance footage that may have captured it.
“These allegations, especially when there’s a racially motivated slant to it, we definitely take very seriously — it is something that will be investigated thoroughly.
“It would be investigated thoroughly either way, but [police] do tend to give some extra priority to this because it was possibly racially motivated,” said Const. Craig Brister.