Tenant claims landlord discriminated against her for smudging

Crystal Smith of Tsimshian, Haisla First Nations has human rights complaint against Parminder Mohan

A basement suite tenant claims her landlord discriminated against her for “smudging” and has lodged a human rights complaint against him.

Crystal Smith, of the Tsimshian and Haisla First Nations, alleges her landlord Parminder Mohan discriminated against her based on her ancestry, race, place of origin and ancestry.

But Mohan says otherwise.

“Mr. Mohan seems to be taking the position that the smudging was not genuine but used to cover the use of marijuana,” B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Catherine McCreary stated in her Sept. 5th reasons for decision.

“Ms. Smith denies that this is the case.”

Smith told the tribunal she regularly smudges, a practice observed by some Aboriginal people involving the burning of purifying herbs such as sweetgrass and sage, as well as cedar, designed to ward off negative energy. But Mohan believes his tenant was burning marijuana, which Smith says she doesn’t smoke. He denies Smith’s allegations of discrimination and applied to have her complaint dismissed.

McCreary stated that she made “no findings of fact” in the case but decided not to dismiss it. She decided that “the matter will proceed to a hearing to determine the facts and whether the facts as established amount to discrimination under the Code” and added that the tribunal “will schedule the hearing as soon as possible.”

None of the claims have been proven in a hearing before the board.

READ ALSO: Cucumber picker files human rights complaint against Surrey greenhouse

READ ALSO: Ex-CFO files racism complaint against B.C. city

READ ALSO: Human rights complaint against Surrey-based DIVERSEcity to proceed

READ ALSO: Emergency dispatcher’s human rights complaint ‘not accepted for filing’

Smith is an on-call teacher working on a master’s degree in educational administration and leadership, specializing in Indigenous leadership. She told the tribunal she regularly smudges, and has been doing so for more than 13 years in keeping with her family’s culture and spiritual beliefs. She said she smudged in other residences without incident.

McCreary heard the tenant and landlord signed a residential tenancy agreement on Dec. 4, 2016 for a basement suite that is one of four rental units in a duplex Mohan owns. Among the terms listed were no smoking or drugs in the building, including medical marijuana, that “smelly foods must be cooked outside” and that the “tenant will not disturb other tenants with noise or nuisance.”

Mohan told the tribunal that the smell was “really strong” in the upstairs unit, that it made him feel sick, and that he told Smith as much. He claims she told him: “Well I’m sorry that is making you sick but sage is used for cultural purposes and I will be using it often.”

McCreary noted that Mohan “concluded that Ms. Smith did not care for his health or well-being. He said that he is not going to compromise his health.”

The tribunal heard Smith moved out on June 15, 2017 after Mohan served her with three eviction notices — the third being a two-month notice that the basement suite would need to be vacated for renovation — and refused to take any more rent cheques from her.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

EvictionHuman Rights Tribunalsmudging

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Body found after ‘suspicious’ fire near Langley/Surrey border

No cause of death announced; investigation continues, say RCMP

Clothing donation bins in Surrey are crucial for hospital auxiliary

Program is the organization’s only source of income not greatly affected by pandemic

COLUMN: Me to We Scandal – Should Teachers Be Recruiters?

Classrooms must be centres for education, not indoctrination

Surrey council gives nod to office tower at southeast corner of Central City mall

The 25-storey office tower is proposed for 10045 King George Boulevard

21 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in B.C. as virus ‘silently circulates’ in broader community

Health officials urge British Columbians to enjoy summer safely as surge continues

Tough time for tree fruits as some B.C. farm products soar

Province reports record 2019 sales, largely due to cannabis

Abbotsford woman starts petition to have B.C. government help with IVF costs

Jennifer Kuiken says cost of in vitro fertilization is too high for most people

‘Let’s all do a self-check’: Okanagan mayor reacts to racist vandalism targeting local family

Home of Indo-Canadian family in Summerland was targeted on evening of July 13

Province agrees to multimillion-dollar payout for alleged victims of Kelowna social worker

Robert Riley Saunders is accused of misappropriating funds of children — often Indigenous — in his care

B.C. businessman David Sidoo gets 3 months behind bars for college admissions scam

Sidoo was sentenced for hiring someone take the SATs in place of his two sons

PHOTOS: Inside a newly-listed $22M mega-mansion on ALR land in B.C.

The large home, located on ALR land, is one of the last new mansions to legally be built on ALR land

COVID-19 gives B.C. First Nation rare chance to examine tourism’s impact on grizzly bears

With 40 infrared cameras deployed in Kitasoo-Xai’Xais territory, research will help develop tourism plan with least impact on bears

RCMP searching for culprit behind needle-filled lemons left on Coquitlam-area trails

The two lemons found were thrown away leaving police with little evidence

Most Read