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Abbotsford Sikhs to honour shooting victims

On the one-week anniversary of the Oak Creek, Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting, Abbotsford’s Sikh-Canadian community hold a remembrance event in honour of the victims of the tragedy.

The service takes place on Sunday, Aug. 12 at 10:30 a.m. at the Khalsa Diwan Society, Abbotsford (33094 South Fraser Way).

This local remembrance event is part of an international, youth-led movement to unify Sikh temples and communities across the continents in sending a collective, public message of remembrance and tolerance in the aftermath of the Aug. 5 violence.

Last Sunday, Wade Michael Page, a reported U.S. Army veteran, entered a temple in Wisconsin and killed six people and wounded three others when he opened fire with a semi-automatic handgun. He was then shot and killed by police.

The incident has sent shock waves across the continent.

“It touches us so much because it happened in our place of worship, in a gurdwara. This is a place where we go to seek solidarity with each other and be at peace,” explained Sharanjit Kaur Sandhra from the University of the Fraser Valley’s Centre for Indo Canadian Studies.

She said the location of the shooting impacts Sikhs in a way that “nothing else could” but wants members from every community to come out to the event.

“It’s not a Sikh issue; it’s an issue concerning humanity,” said Sandhra.

She said many people in the U.S., and some in Canada, are still unknowledgeable about what Sikhism is.

In the case of the Wisconsin killings, police believe that the shooter thought the temple was linked to Muslims.

“It’s an ignorance factor, not knowing the various cultures, the mosaic of different cultures that exist in your own society. It’s tragic,” said Sandhra.

Dozens of gurdwaras (Sikh community centres) around the world, including Khalsa Diwan Society, Abbotsford, will be singing a poignant religious hymn promptly at 10:30 a.m.: Jis Da Sahib Dadha Hoye, Tis No Maar Na Saakai Koye.

The event will be a gathering to reflect on the tragedy, show support for the victims, and demonstrate that all Canadians stand united against hate.

Representatives from the local community will be available throughout the event to respond to questions and requests. English translations of the religious hymn will be distributed before the event.

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