Language barriers cited as challenge for police in increasingly diverse Canada

Members and observers of Canada’s law enforcement community say scrutiny of mental health interactions will not be complete without considerations of language diversity across the country.

They say police agencies have historically been ill-equipped to respond to crisis situations in languages other than English or French.

A recent, tragic example played out in Mississauga over the weekend with the death of Ejaz Choudry, a man living with schizophrenia shot dead during an interaction with Peel Regional Police.

Choudry’s family alleges one of the factors at play in his death, which is being probed by Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit, was the fact that police interacted with him in English despite the presence of a Punjabi interpreter.

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