Over 100,000 Ontario Sikhs Commemorate the Birth of Khalsa

- Prominent Politicians Voice their Support -

TORONTO, May 2 /CNW/ - The sun broke through the rain clouds just long enough to allow over 100,000 Sikhs to celebrate Khalsa, the guiding force of the Sikh religion that calls upon followers to uphold the principles of truth, justice and equality.

This year's celebration marked 311 years since the birth of Khalsa and 300 years since first Khalsa Rule under the leadership of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur. Throughout history, Sikhs have served and sacrificed for the cause of mankind, irrespective of religion and caste. Sikhs have a history of more than 100 years in Canada and have proven their worth as builders of the country's social, economic and political institutions.

As such, the Ontario Gurdwara Committee (OGC) was honoured to welcome a number of prominent politicians, who expressed solidarity and raised a voice against injustices done to Sikhs.

Prior to the Khalsa Day parade people signed a petition and a special remembrance was made to honour the over 30,000 Sikhs killed in a wave of mob violence that swept India in November 1984.

    
    Khalsa Day Quotes:
    ------------------

    Amarjit Singh Mann, OGC spokesman

    "We appreciate the support of the community, other faith groups, and the
    political leaders who stand with us for justice. The Sikh identity
    remains strong in Canada and we remain committed to peace, truth,
    equality and justice. In the face of persecution and stereotypes, Sikhs
    have successfully maintained a way of life and followed a clear set of
    principles given to us by our Gurus. We have managed to maintain our
    ideals and identity during very difficult periods like November 1984."


    Jack Layton, NDP Leader and Member of Parliament, Toronto-Danforth

    "I stood with the community over concerns about Kamal Nath's invitation
    to Canada. Canadian Sikhs were hurt by the invitation of a man accused of
    participating in the mass killing of Sikhs in November 1984. Those wounds
    have still not healed.

    "For centuries, Sikhs have been confronted with oppression and
    intolerance. It's through the strength of their will and the spirit of
    perseverance that we've been able to broaden our cultural understanding."


    Andrew Kania, Member of Parliament, Brampton West

    "I'm in favour of trying to bring criminals to justice. There must be due
    process, which means an impartial judge with reliable evidence. I'm
    bringing forward a petition in Parliament on June 8th, which encourages
    the Canadian government to engage the Indian government on this issue.
    It's ridiculous that over 30,000 Sikh people died in a couple of days in
    November 1984 and nobody has been brought to justice."


    Sukh Dhaliwal, Member of Parliament, Newton-North Delta

    "Sikhism is based on equality of social rights and social justice. Canada
    represents the embodiment of these principles as enshrined in the Charter
    of Rights and Freedoms. Canadian values of peace, justice and equality
    are Sikh values. That's why I'm proud to take a stand against the mob
    killings of Sikhs in November 1984. We must ensure justice prevails."


    Hazel McCallion, Mayor of Mississauga

    "On Khalsa Day, it's so important that we celebrate and remember the
    past. The Sikh people are incredibly generous always stepping forward in
    tough times with food and money for the needy in our community as a
    whole. Don't ever let your generous nature or your faith depart from you.
    Be proud of your past and teach your children to celebrate it. Yours is a
    caring community that deserves more recognition for your contributions to
    Canada."
    

OGC supports the "INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE AWARENESS" campaign launched by Sikhs For Justice, a Human rights advocacy group.

SOURCE ONTARIO GURDWARA COMMITTEE

For further information: For further information: Andrew Findlater, SELECT Public Relations, afindlater@selectpr.ca, T: (416) 452-4873

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