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Who Made You The Judge

Angelene and Ashneil are siblings. They grew up in the same household, experienced similar upbringings, and share their complex ancestry, which sculpted their experiences. However, their journeys are uniquely their own.

Ashneil (Ash) experienced violence, physical and verbal abuse, and racism from a very young age. He was called the “n” word, beaten up regularly, and even jumped by five people. He was othered by a teacher, which set the tone for the other administration and students. Ash lived with constant anxiety. He desperately wanted to fit in, so he became what they expected of him. Ash is very dark-skinned and naturally connected with Black culture and music. In high school, he listened to gangster rap, wore the clothes, and played into the stereotype, making him the police liaison’s focus. He was discriminated against and labeled a criminal inside and outside school.

Ashneil (Ash) Prakash  (he/him)

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Ash was born in Suva, Fiji, and immigrated to Canada before his first birthday; his ancestors were transported from South India to Fiji under the British Indenture System.

Alcoholism is widespread within the Indo-Fijian community, and the culture doesn’t understand sobriety. There is a machismo that Brown men are expected to live up to; Strength = control and emotions = weakness. The amalgamation of his parent’s immigration, culture, generational trauma, exposure to alcoholism, patriarchal family structure, and childhood trauma left Ash pre-disposed to substance abuse and control issues.

When Ash started drinking, doing drugs, and going to clubs, he finally felt he belonged. He didn’t realize he had a problem until he first tried to kill himself. It was the end of a relationship filled with gas-lighting and jealousy on her part and abusive behaviour on his. Ash was in the mindset of an addict, selfish, erratic, and angry. At one point, he threw an ottoman, putting a hole in the wall. Ash realized he was repeating his father’s mistakes, although the circumstances were not the same. Dad is always in survival mode; Ash internalizes everything and then explodes. 

Twelve years of complete debauchery followed. Ash committed crimes, went to prison, and dealt with lawyers and court cases. Several of his friends died, some from taking their own lives. He would not be next. He did well at being sober sometimes but always seemed to relapse. Eventually, he went to rehab but distracted by a new relationship with a fellow addict, sobriety was impossible. Another domestic incident followed with the threat of a lengthy prison sentence. At this point, Ash gave up on life and gave in to his addictions. He felt there was too much to overcome. But with his dad’s help, his sentence ended up being house arrest and probation.

“I’ve gone through self-inflicted pain and inflicted pain on others, but I hope others will learn from my experiences.” – Ash Prakash.

Today Ash is a recovering drug addict and alcoholic, celebrating more than three years sober. He never gave up believing he would eventually get sober. For Ash, recovery was about the right timing, his willingness to change, and having all of the tools for success. He started going back to meetings, had a probation officer who believed in him, sponsors who kept him accountable, a community of sober friends, and regular counseling. He did the work, evaluated himself, and took ownership of his life while learning to be empathetic and compassionate. He is now a man with a checkered past and a bright future. Ash is a mentor for others on their journey to sobriety. He supports and elevates Indo-Fijians and other people of colour (POC) within his community. And he is currently working towards his B-level welding ticket.

No Ties 1879 is a podcast by Angelene and Ash that exposes the reality of being Indo-Fijian in Canada and the struggle to find a sense of belonging. The sibling duo discusses past and present injustice, raising awareness about generational trauma and mental health. It reveals the British Indenture System and is a powerful tool to preserve their culture, facilitate conversations around indentureship and build a community of like-minded individuals.

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