Ot­tawa funds help boost se­cu­rity at Sikh gur­d­wara

Calgary Herald - - CITY + REGION - ANNA JUNKER [email protected] Twit­ter: @JunkerAnna

The Sikh So­ci­ety of Cal­gary has been granted fed­eral fund­ing to help bet­ter se­cure its south­west build­ing from van­dal­ism af­ter mul­ti­ple in­ci­dents over the years.

Some $79,000 will to go to­ward se­cu­rity up­grades to the non­profit’s gur­d­wara on 81 Street S.W., the com­mu­nity ’s place of wor­ship, un­der the Com­mu­ni­ties at Risk: Se­cu­rity In­fra­struc­ture Pro­gram.

The fed­eral pro­gram is de­signed to help com­mu­ni­ties across Canada who are at risk of hate-mo­ti­vated crime im­prove their se­cu­rity in­fra­struc­ture.

“Un­for­tu­nately, we know there are peo­ple around us whose hearts and minds are filled with hate,” said Cal­gary MP Kent Hehr, who an­nounced the fund­ing Mon­day.

“There is no place for this in Canada. There is no place for this in our coun­try. Acts of in­tol­er­ance do not re­flect our Cana­dian val­ues of ac­cep­tance, of di­ver­sity and inclusion. Th­ese are the val­ues that Canada has and con­tin­ues to strive for.”

The up­grades to the gur­d­wara in­clude the in­stal­la­tion of a CCTV sys­tem — in­clud­ing 28 cam­eras on the main build­ing, an alarm sys­tem, ex­te­rior se­cu­rity and flood light­ing, as well as fences and gates.

The se­cu­rity up­grades were also par­tially funded with money raised by the Sikh So­ci­ety ’s con­gre­ga­tion, which has ex­pe­ri­enced sev­eral in­stances of van­dal­ism through­out the years.

In the 1970s, when the Sikh So­ci­ety was look­ing to build the gur­d­wara, they faced op­po­si­tion from the sur­round­ing neigh­bour­hood.

In­der­jit Singh Wad­hwa, the so­ci­ety’s pres­i­dent, said they had a hard time to get the per­mit to build, but ul­ti­mately it was granted. How­ever, that didn’t come with­out in­ci­dent.

“At the time of build­ing the gur­d­wara, we had lots of in­ci­dents that dam­aged our gur­d­wara. They were break­ing our glass doors and there were so many prob­lems we had,” said Wad­hwa.

Wad­hwa added they didn’t have too many in­ci­dents af­ter that, and they made sure to let the sur­round­ing com­mu­nity know who they are and what they do.

“We be­lieve in peace. This is a place of wor­ship,” said Wad­hwa.

How­ever, in 2016, the gur­d­wara was van­dal­ized with spray-painted swastikas and the graf­fiti was vis­i­ble around six lo­ca­tions in and around the build­ing.

“Since then, we got worried again,” said Wad­hwa.

“We’re very for­tu­nate to have this se­cu­rity sys­tem that no­body could dare to come and de­mol­ish or dam­age the gur­d­wara.”

The Sikh So­ci­ety said it can­not elim­i­nate all hate crimes, but the new se­cu­rity mea­sures will de­ter any­one from think­ing of do­ing so.

FILES

Harpeet Singh Gill, a vol­un­teer at the Sikh So­ci­ety of Cal­gary, ex­am­ines graf­fiti at the build­ing on 81 Street S.W. in 2016. The fed­eral gov­ern­ment is giv­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion about $79,000 for se­cu­rity up­grades.

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