Ottawa funds help boost security at Sikh gurdwara
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.
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.