The Vancouver Sun: Journalism’s Misrepresentation of Crime & Indo-Canadians

Who is Kim Bolan?

Kim Bolan is a contemporary journalist for the Vancouver Sun who has had a massively influential career in the Lower Mainland. Her work has spanned nearly 40 years covering a tremendous range of topics from local political disputes to international headlines that have encompassed years of investigative reporting. In addition, Bolan’s work has primarily focused on South Asian communities within the Fraser Valley and greater Vancouver area highlighting a plethora of themes including terrorism, organised crime, and other criminal justice issues. The backlash from Bolan’s focus on groups such as the Babbar Khalsa as well as the Brothers Keepers and United Nations gangs has resulted in serious threats to her life including an assassination plot and attacks on her home. Through the hundreds of articles Kim has produced, she has sought to inform readers about the reality of Indo-Canadian communities painting a treacherous and deadly portrait of what occurs within the clandestine political and criminal spheres of such communities.

The Research

While Kim has been praised for her reporting of both local and international stories surrounding the Indo-Canadian community over the last few decades, her work has not been without criticism. These criticisms reflect the focal point of this paper’s discussion highlighting a fundamental issue not only within Bolan’s work but that of numerous other journalists and news organisations who cover Sikh communities in Canada. While news reports often fixate on terrorism, homicide, and organised crime, they simultaneously fail to acknowledge or even identify the systemic problems that underpin and contextualise these criminal justice issues. This failure to provide vital background information serves to misinform the reader about the reality of Sikh communities painting an incomplete and arguably prejudicial representation of Indo-Canadians. As such, this paper delves into the extent of Bolan’s journalistic career and reporting on Sikh communities, defines critics of her journalism, and emphasises supporting academic literature for those critiques.

Researcher Autobiography

My name is Isaac Barker and I am a fourth-year student graduating from the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice Honours and an extended minor in Psychology. Over the course of my undergraduate degree, I have become increasingly more interested in research and the methodologies that underpin scientific rigour. In accordance with that intrigue and my background in criminological issues, I have carried out multiple research endeavours including a qualitative exploration into British Columbia’s search and rescue associations and the challenges they face with UFV’s School of Criminology as well as my current project with the South Asian Studies Institute (SASI) and Dr. Satwinder Bains. More than merely an interest in methodologies and various analytical approaches, I have a true passion for seeking out demanding, unique projects that place me outside my comfort zone. SASI has enabled this passion to be actualized while simultaneously exposing me to the true diversity that thrives within Canada. I intend on carrying the lessons I have learned and the experiences I have gained across my life as I enter into the next chapter of my educational career at the University of Birmingham where I will be studying law.