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THE World Sikh Organization of Canada said on Monday that it is deeply concerned by Bill C-75, the “Oath of Citizenship Act,” introduced by the government last Friday, shortly before the closing of the parliamentary session and which won’t come up until after the fall election. The Bill would prohibit the wearing of niqabs by […]

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BY SHAMANDEEP SINGH Sikhi Awareness Foundation, Canada TWO of Sikhi Awareness Foundation’s sevadaars left Canada for Nepal on May 12. It was decided by our organization to focus on rebuilding houses. Fundraisers were done at the local gurdwaras in Vancouver and $24,000 was raised by the sangat. While SAF’s Canada team was […]

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Published in National
Friday, 05 June 2015 08:55

Akali Dal Seeks Sikh Votes in Canada

India’s oldest regional political party, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which rules Punjab, is sending special teams to Canada to woo votes from Sikhs who have left their homeland.

For the first time in its 95-year history, the party will send out a large contingent of senior leaders led by state cabinet ministers to woo the so-called Non-Resident Indians or NRIs to set up a structured organization and create a SAD base outside India.

"I am sending teams of my party in June-end to set up our organization in America, Canada and Europe," SAD president and Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal told the Times of India. 

"We will start a membership drive in these countries with each member getting a digital identity card."

The Akali Dal operates on the political position of far-right, with a political ideology of Sikhism. In other words, the basic claim of existence of the Shiromani Akali Dal is in catering to the demands of the Sikhs across Punjab and all around the world.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) will initially focus on the diaspora in the U.S., Canada and the EU. It will divide each of these regions into four zones and appoint a president in each zone. In the second phase they will head to Australia and New Zealand.

"We will create an entire organization with vice-presidents, general secretaries, working committee members, unit heads," Sukhbir added. "In October, I want to invite my presidents from around the world."

According to his plan over the next 45 days, three teams will visit various countries one after another. 

They will meet community leaders and also arrange some large gatherings. Each team will be led by a Cabinet minister. The teams will also identify people who are ideologically compatible so that they can be given important positions.

The Akali Dal operates on the political position of far-right, with a political ideology of Sikhism. In other words, the basic claim of existence of the Shiromani Akali Dal is in catering to the demands of the Sikhs across Punjab and all around the world.

Presently, the Akali Dal is in alliance with the BJP and forms a majority in the state, with 56 of its own members and 12 members of the BJP in the Punjab Legislative Assembly. The current Chief Minister of the state is Sukhbir Singh Badal’s father and party patron Prakash Singh Badal. 

The Akali Dal controls the various Sikh religious bodies and is highly revered among Sikhs in the country as well as across the world, for its efforts to safeguard religious, cultural and linguistic minorities. 

Following the Prime Minister's Lead

The move to woo the Sikh vote around the world comes at a time when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set new standards in engagement with NRIs during his various trips abroad, including Canada in the past year.

It also follows fears of heightened Sikh militant activities by supporters of the Khalistan movement, which is seeking an independent homeland of Punjab.

The SAD leadership feels that many Punjabi NRIs are tired of being seen as just moneybags that send dollars back home to keep their family and village happy.

In 2011, the Canadian Government estimated there to be at least 800,000 Sikhs living in Canada.

Observers said the SAD has a fairly tough task when seeking to secure the support of Sikhs overseas as many of the opinion makers in the diaspora were hardliners who had fled Punjab during the militancy era.

However, the SAD leadership feels that many Punjabi NRIs are tired of being seen as just moneybags that send dollars back home to keep their family and village happy. They now want the influence they wield over their community to translate into some kind of say in the affairs of Punjab.

"Have you ever noticed that all prime ministers from countries where there are Punjabis come and visit the Golden Temple?" Sukhbir told the Indian media recently. "Because they need votes there, they have to be seen at the Darbar Sahib. They have to be seen with us."

Virtually every Canadian politician makes a beeline for Sikhism’s holiest shrine, the Golden Temple in Punjab, for photo ops when in India.
Canada’s relationship with India’s central government in New Delhi and the state government of Punjab has been testy.

In August 2013, Sukhbir had cancelled his 10-day visit to Canada after the Canadian government said it would not provide immunity against any civil suit that may be filed against him there. 

Sikh groups in Canada had tried to file a case against him and Punjab police chief Sumedh Singh Saini for "crimes against humanity."

Meanwhile, seeking an independent Sikh country, “Ontario Gurdwaras Committee” (OGC) a Canadian umbrella Sikh organization passed a historic resolution in support of holding a referendum in the state of Punjab in the year 2020.

Since the military invasion of Sikhism’s holiest shrine, the Golden Temple, in June 1984 in the operation code named “Blue Star”, Canadian Sikhs have been supporting the movement for creation of “Khalistan”, a sovereign Sikh country. 

The OGC said that on May 3, a gathering of more than 150,000 Canadian Sikhs unanimously passed the Punjab Referendum Resolution during annual Khalsa Day parade in Toronto.

Chanting slogans in favour of Independent Sikh country, participants walked over 11 kilometres from Malton to Sikh Spiritual Centre Toronto carrying placards demanding referendum in the state of Punjab.


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Published in South Asia

SOME Sikh women along with some Sikh men, angry at what they say are anti-women pronouncements by controversial Sikh preacher Hari Singh Randhawa Wale that go against the Sikh Holy Scriptures, Guru Granth Sahib, turned up at Surrey’s Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran on Wednesday to demand an explanation from the preacher, urging him to stop delivering […]

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Saturday, 30 May 2015 06:01

Thanks To BC Sikh Community

The BC Sikh community helped raise nearly $180,000 for the victims of the devastating earthquake in Nepal. A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on April 25 which has led to the already staggering number of over 8,000 deaths. Many of our friends and families have lost their lives or got injured and hundreds of thousand [...]

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The Good Samaritan, Harman Singh, said he “wasn’t thinking about the turban” when he saw that a child was bleeding on the ground following an accident outside [...]

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AMRITSAR – Suspense over Golden Temple being considered for inclusion in the Unesco’s world [...]

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ONTARIO NDP Leader Andrea Horwath appointed MPP Jagmeet Singh as Deputy Leader of the party on Monday, thus making him the first turbaned Sikh to hold such a position in Canadian politics. Horwath said: “I’m proud to name Jagmeet Singh as Deputy Leader. I know that  having him serve in this important role will help […]

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Published in Politics
Friday, 10 April 2015 10:14

Security Ramped Up for Indian PM's Visit

By A Special Correspondent

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks set for a major outreach towards the powerful Sikh community in Canada but that is not going to stop certain groups with strident agendas to stage rallies and protests next week.

The RCMP’s Protective Policing Services is also planning to deploy a high-level security plan akin to those reserved for the president of the United States, the Queen of England or the Pope.

This will include air support, alternative motorcade routes and last minute unannounced changes.

Modi’s Special Protection Group (SPG) and India’s spy agency commonly known as RAW or Research and Analysis Wing have been in Canada working with the Mounties and the Canadian Prime Minister’s Office on security details.

Modi’s itinerary includes visits to Ottawa, Toronto And Vancouver, where he is expected to go to the Ross Street Sikh Gurdwara, a Hindu temple in Surrey and attend a State Banquet hosted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Observers feel the Modi government’s outreach towards the Sikh community in Canada will significantly strengthen the moderates and will also seek to reassure the Sikh community abroad that India will always stand with it to protect its interests.

So far, Canadian Sikhs under the banners of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) and Canada unit of Shiromani Akali Dal Amritsar (Mann) are reportedly gearing-up to protest against Modi’s upcoming visit to Canada. 

Protests planned

The organizers of proposed protests say that Modi has a track record of severe human rights violation and he is leading a government run by Hindu extremist organizations, which indulge in attacks on religious minorities, particularly Christians and Muslims.

Before he became Prime Minister of India and as chief Minister of Gujarat, Modi was denied a visa to Canada as a suspected human rights abusers. In 2002, Modi was in power in Gujarat during religious riots in which 1,000 people were killed, mostly Muslims. He was eventually cleared of any wrong doing by the Supreme but his fervent Hindu nationalism had poisoned his foreign relations and several other Western countries shunned him, including the United States.

In a recent update, Sikhs For Justice alleged that “Indian diplomats in Canada led by High Commissioner Vishnu Prakash have embarked upon a fierce campaign of intimidation and coercion against the members of the Sikh community, particularly media, to ensure their silence on the issue of PM Modi's involvement in the 2002 massacre of Muslims in the state of Gujarat.”

The group criticized Indian diplomats in Canada for exceeding their legitimate limits and claimed the activities of the Indian diplomatic officials posted in Canada violate provisions of Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961.

“The Indian High Commission in Canada has set up a 'state within a state' and is openly challenging the sovereignty of Canada, violating Canadian and international law and thus defying the autonomy of the host Government,” said Sikhs for Justice.

Tussle within community

Indian media reporting on the upcoming visit said Canada has been witness to a fierce intra-community tussle between the moderate Sikhs, who are soft on India, and the pro-Khalistani hardliners who leave no stone unturned to target India on its human rights record.

In fact, in the decade that followed Operation Bluestar in 1984, when Punjab was wracked by militancy, pro-Khalistan Sikhs in Canada were at the forefront of fund mobilization for the secessionist movement, said the Deccan Herald.

Observers feel the Modi government’s outreach towards the Sikh community in Canada will significantly strengthen the moderates and will also seek to reassure the Sikh community abroad that India will always stand with it to protect its interests. Hate-crimes against Sikhs have increased in the West, and India has taken up the issue strongly with the concerned governments.

The Prime Minister will visit Canada from April 14, on the third and final leg of his forthcoming foreign tour after visiting France and Germany. He is also expected to visit a Hindu temple in Canada, which could be the Laxmi Narayan Temple in Surrey.

The organizers of proposed protests say that Modi has a track record of severe human rights violation and he is leading a government run by Hindu extremist organizations, which indulge in attacks on religious minorities, particularly Christians and Muslims.

Apart from the capital city of Ottawa, the Prime Minister will also travel to Toronto where a New York Madison Square-like event is planned by the Indian diaspora at the Ricoh Coliseum in the city.

The Madison Square event during Modi’s US visit last September had been a huge success and the Indian diaspora in Canada is aiming to make it a bigger event than the one in New York.

Modi’s foreign visit starts on April 9 and he will hold talks with French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Canadian PM Stephen Harper during his eight-day tour, which is part of India’s “Link-West” policy.

Next month, Modi will visit China. He is also likely to visit Mongolia and South Korea after that as part of India’s “Act East” policy. During his China visit, Mr Modi is likely to visit Xian, the hometown of President Xi Jinping.


Republished in partnership with South Asian Post

Published in National

by Richard M. Landau

Why is it that some new Canadian communities appear to achieve prominence, stature and wealth in the fabric of the national community – more readily than others?

Research indicates that how well immigrant communities grow and emerge is dependent upon a variety of factors, including: higher education levels, a willingness to patronize/economically support their own communities and the length of time or number of generations which a group has been in Canada. 

Educational Attainment

There is a growing body of evidence that typically educational attainment levels in Canada are higher among the children of some immigrant and ethno-cultural communities: for example, Chinese, Iranian, Jewish, South Asian and some East Asian people. 

It’s indisputable that communities that keep education as a number one priority provide succeeding generations with an economic and social head start.

Having worked on the federal stay in school campaign in the 1990s, I was privy to the facts about the significant difference in lifelong earnings between those who graduate high school, or higher education, and those who don’t. It’s indisputable that communities that keep education as a number one priority provide succeeding generations with an economic and social head start.

Economic Self-empowerment

There was a landmark social study conducted in Miami a few years ago reported on PBS’s Tony Brown’s Journal. It showed that the ethnic communities that had by and large prospered and “emerged” fastest – Jews, Cubans, Nicaraguans – were all characterized by one economic fact:  the members of all three groups on average spent more than 80 cents of every disposable dollar purchasing goods and services from businesses owned by people of their own ethnic group. By contrast, the poorest communities – African-Americans and Haitians – were found to spend significantly less within their own ethnic communities, and would sometimes even avoid that practice. The point of the study is: a community can prosper when it economically empowers itself.

Longevity & Social Engagement

Clearly, some communities have woven themselves into the fabric of Canada by virtue of their longevity. Recent immigrant communities may, out of necessity, be more concerned with subsistence than they are with making a broad social contribution. It may take a generation or two before a community emerges economically and politically. However, longevity in Canada is probably the least important determinant of whether a community will grow and prosper. 

On St. Patrick’s Day – though it wasn’t always this way – everyone purports to be Irish. Those of Irish heritage willingly tolerate that from the rest of us. However, some communities choose to keep their own counsel and live in closely-knit enclaves – for now.

Not all communities are equally willing to share their heritage and culture with the wider populace. On St. Patrick’s Day – though it wasn’t always this way – everyone purports to be Irish. Those of Irish heritage willingly tolerate that from the rest of us. However, some communities choose to keep their own counsel and live in closely-knit enclaves – for now.   

Political Involvement

All of which brings me to the matter of political representation, because it is the most obvious measure of the engagement and empowerment of any community.

Some communities punch far above their weight. For example, if we use political representation as one yardstick, Canada has nearly 500,000 Sikhs (about one and a half per cent) and yet with six MPs, nearly two per cent representation in Parliament. According to the World Sikh Organization of Canada, there are currently 17 elected Sikhs at the provincial and federal levels.

Meanwhile, the close to 1.2 million Muslims in Canada, are vastly under-represented and currently can count amongst themselves only three elected members at the provincial and federal levels along with the Mayor of Calgary.

“Sikhs have been more successful because they tend to concentrate geographically. They are more cohesive as compared to others, especially Muslims. This is not to say there are no internal differences between them.” - Mohammed Ayub Khan

Mohammed Ayub Khan, PhD candidate in the department of political science at McMaster University says Muslims must contend with an immense national linguistic diversity and a lack of effective electoral education in the community. As a result, voting percentages continue to remain low among Muslims.

“Sikhs have been more successful because they tend to concentrate geographically,” Khan says. “They are more cohesive as compared to others, especially Muslims. This is not to say there are no internal differences between them.”

Khan goes on to add that this is exacerbated by an absence of professional media, which can highlight and discuss what the issues are within the Muslim faith community. He also points to negative attitudes, if not outright hostility, from the larger population. He says that while Sikhs come second in terms of unfavourable attitudes, they are able to overcome this due to their geographic concentration.

When a community embraces educational attainment, economic self-empowerment, and to a lesser degree, social engagement with the broad mosaic, it can indeed give itself appropriate representation and a prominent voice in the life of the nation.


Richard M. Landau has been responsible for adjudicating disputes and enforcing a television network code of ethics in a religious broadcasting setting since 1992. He is a graduate of Carleton University and the University of Ottawa. A leader in interfaith dialogue, Landau has consulted with the UK Home Office, and the White House Office of Community and Faith-Based Initiatives. He works closely with leadership in all of the major world religions. He is author of What the World Needs to Know about Interfaith Dialogue.

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

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