2013 NEWS ROUNDUP: JULY TO NOVEMBER – SEPTEMBER

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PARTIES SLAM PARTI QUEBECOIS’ CHARTER OF VALUES

Leaders of all three major federal parties slammed the Parti Quebecois’ so-called Charter of Values.

Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney said: “We will be asking the Department of Justice to review the final bill when it is available, and if it violates the constitutional protections to which all Canadians are entitled, such as freedom of religion, we will defend those rights vigorously. We are concerned by any proposal that limits the ability to practice one’s faith and be free from discrimination.”

Official Opposition leader Tom Mulcair sent a clear message that the NDP will steadfastly continue to defend human rights. “Human rights are a fundamental principle in a democratic society. We don’t believe that this charter conforms to this value,” said Mulcair.

Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said Premier Pauline Marois was trying to distract from Quebec’s economic problems. He noted that religious differences tend to have a little more traction here in Quebec “because of our strength of identity and the fact that we’ve managed to thrive in a mostly English North America,” but added: “Quebecers are better than this, and Madame Marois is going to find that out the hard way.”

 

 

STUDENT KILLED IN SURREY’S MOTORCYCLE CRASH

A Princess Margaret Secondary School student, Amarpreet Kaur Sivia, 16, was killed and two other school students were severely injured when a Kwantlen Polytechnic University student on a motorcycle that was southbound on 128th Street ran into them at about 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday at the intersection at 69A Avenue.

All four students were South Asians.

The injured school students were identified as Jaspreet Dhami and Shahana Samira by their friends.

Two of the pedestrians were taken to hospital by air ambulance with critical injuries, but one of them passed away. The other pedestrian and driver of the motorcycle were taken to local area hospital with serious injuries.

Unfortunately, the City of Surrey had ignored requests for a crosswalk on that stretch of the road on some technical pretext or the other. We wrote: “Isn’t there something called COMMON SENSE? It’s time that Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts and her councillors do something about it.” Later in the year, the City, under pressure, said it was going to install a crosswalk there.

 

 

PARM GILL APPOINTED PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the appointment of 12 new parliamentary secretaries to assist ministers with their parliamentary duties and Parm Gill, MP for Brampton-Springdale, was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs. Gill was first elected to the House of Commons in 2011.  His Private Member’s Bill C-394 An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the National Defence Act (criminal organization recruitment) became law this year. Gill resides in Brampton with his wife Amarpal, his two sons, Raman and Daman, and his daughter Parmeet.

DEEPAK OBHRAI, MP foe Calgary East, was given additional responsibilities as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for International Human Rights. He was first elected to the House of Commons in 1997 and re-elected in 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2011. He was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in February 2006 and continues to serve in this role. In addition, he has also served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation. Obhrai and his wife, Neena, have three children.

 

 

EZAR KHAN FOUND MURDERED IN SURREY

The homicide victim found by joggers in Joe Brown Park, located at 123 Street and New McLellan Road, on September 18 was identified as Ezar Ahmed Khan, 30, of Surrey.

Integrated Homicide Investigation Team Sgt. Jennifer Pound said: “Ezar Khan does have a criminal record which dates back to 2010.  Investigators do not feel, at this time, that this homicide is gang-related.”

She said: “IHIT continues to investigate this murder and determine a motive. At this point evidence suggests that this was not a random attack, but targeted towards Ezar Khan.”

 

 

ASSOCIATION OF SOUTH ASIAN PROFESSIONALS

The Association of South Asian Professionals of BC (“ASAP”) held their Fourth Annual Gala Dinner with more than 200 professionals in attendance. ASAP Gala 2013 brought together prominent members of the South Asian community, professionals and supporters to learn more about the vision of ASAP, socialize, interact and be part of a group looking to make a difference.  The attendees were fully engaged by keynote speaker Sonya Gulati, Senior Economist with TD Bank in Toronto. Sonya described the global economy, provided her world economic forecasts and explained how upcoming events will affect Canada and B.C.

Jindy Bhalla, President of ASAP, said: “The calibre of South Asian professionals is at a point where we are truly second to none in our chosen fields.  The task we are faced with is to convince our youth to pursue higher education given the low levels of South Asians now enrolled in post-secondary education.”

The Association of South Asian Professionals of British Columbia was formed in 2007 by a group of concerned South Asian professionals from various disciplines. They included lawyers, engineers, brokers, financiers, doctors, notaries, media persons and local business people.

 

 

 

 ‘GURU NANAK EMERGENCY SERVICES ENTRANCE’ IN SURREY

(Photo 1: Jas Cheema, Sikh Academy’s Baldeep S. Hehar and Hakam S. Dhindsa, Jane Adams, SMHF President & CEO, and Pavan Bahia of SMHF.).

 

Surrey Memorial Hospital’s new Emergency Department (ER) opened, giving the community will a brand-new facility designed to meet the needs of the city and region.

Many members of the South Asian community feel a special sense of pride when they walk through the new entrance. To mark the community’s contribution to Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation’s fundraising campaign, the main ER entrance is named in honour of the Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

Foundation President and CEO Jane Adams explained that the South Asian community has always been supportive of the hospital, but this reached new heights when the provincial government promised Fraser Health funding for the new ER and Critical Care Tower.

When the foundation launched a fundraising campaign to help purchase 20 per cent of the lifesaving equipment for the project, the community rallied to help. “There was a groundswell of positive energy and support for the project even before the announcement that the ER entrance would be named after the Guru Nanak Dev Ji.”

When the RedFM radiothons urged listeners and sponsors to give to the hospital, thousands either phoned in or arrived at the station with cash and cheques. In total, the radiothons brought in more than $2 million for lifesaving equipment.  Adams notes that this does not include the contributions from South Asian families and companies that gave directly to the foundation.  Through RedFM’s efforts, the South Asian community has also raised money for the hospital’s Mata Tripta Family Birthing Unit.

 

 

ANNA HAZARE AWARDED FIRST-EVER ALLARD PRIZE BY UBC

The University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Law at Allard Hall presented Anna Hazare, one of India’s most influential social activists, with the inaugural Allard Prize for International Integrity at a special ceremony on Wednesday night.

The $100,000 prize is one of the world’s largest awards recognizing efforts to combat corruption and to promote human rights.

“My lifelong mission to fight corruption and promote transparency is stronger for having received this award,” said Hazare. “I have never been attracted to money and wealth, but the Allard Prize will help me and all those that are working towards the same cause to continue the fight. I am hopeful that this international recognition will promote a movement for change that will endure beyond my lifetime for generations to come.”

For decades, Anna Hazare has led successful movements across India to enhance government transparency and investigate and prosecute official corruption. TIME Magazine named the 2011 movement he started one of the Top World News Stories of 2011.

 

 

TRUCKER NAVDEEP DHILLON SENTENCED FOR IMPORTING COCAINE

Trucker Navdeep Singh Dhillon, who was found guilty last May of importing into Canada 30 kilograms of cocaine found in his tractor-trailer unit at the Pacific Highway commercial border crossing on April 17, 2009, was sentenced to 8 ½ years in prison.

Dhillon was also found guilty of possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking in a decision by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Murray Blok.

In a September 6 ruling released later in the month, Blok said: “For each of the offences of importing into Canada a controlled substance, cocaine, and possession for the purpose of trafficking, I sentence you to jail for eight and a half years. Those sentences are concurrent.”

The judge noted that the aggravating factors were “(a) the quantity (30 kilograms) and purity of the cocaine involved; (b) the obvious planning and deliberation necessary to carry out this operation, which indicates that it was not a spur of the moment act on the part of the offender; and (c) from those circumstances it must be concluded that Mr. Dhillon was motivated by greed.”

On the other hand, the judge said that there was the “modest” mitigating factor of no related criminal record.

 

 

SHASHI ASSANAND: AMSSA’S 2013 SERVICE RECOGNITION STAFF AWARD

Shashi Assanand, founder and Executive Director of the Vancouverand Lower Mainland Multicultural Family Support Services Society (VLMFSS) received the 2013 Service Recognition Staff Award by AMSSA (Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies of British Columbia).

The 2013 Diversity Awards citation read: “Shashi Assanand has worked in the immigrant settlement sector as well as the anti-violence sector for over 35 years. She founded the Vancouver and Lower Mainland Multicultural Family Support Services Society (VLMFSS) in 1991 and has been the executive director for the past 22 years. The creation of VLMFSS, is the pinnacle of Shashi Assanand’s achievements. It exemplifies her ability to solidify her commitment to the well-being of immigrants and refugees with a mission of providing culturally sensitive services to immigrant and visible minority women and their families facing family violence.

“Shashi recognized the significant role culture played in moving women from a life of violence to a life of nonviolence and the need for cultural specific strategies. The culturally sensitive counseling, support, advocacy and bicultural parenting workshops provided by the workers in nearly 24 languages is a result of this vision. The unconditional inclusion of cultures has not only recognized and validated the communities we serve, but created a safe harbour for all victims of domestic violence from these communities. This model of service encompasses the values of both multiculturalism and human rights and is a living model of an inclusive workplace comprising of a global workforce.”

 

 

UFV: WRESTLING COACHES ARJAN BHULLAR AND RAJ VIRDI

The University of the Fraser Valley made a successful bid to add the sport of wrestling, effective September 2014, bringing to six the number of teams that will compete in Canada West during the 2014-15 season, according to Canada West Universities Athletic Association. Former CIS champions with the Simon Fraser Clan, Arjan Bhullar and Raj Virdi, were appointed coaches for the conference’s newest wrestling entry.

Bhullar is a two-time Canadian Interuniversity Sport champion and three-time medalist who won four straight Canada West gold medals from 2006 to2009. In 2008 he was named Canada West wrestler of the year.

Virdi won two CIS medals (1 gold, 1 silver), two conference gold medals and the Student-athlete Community Service Award during his Canada West days from 2008 to 2010.

 

 

DIABETES SELF-MANAGEMENT PROGRAM

Members of the South Asian community are reported to be more susceptible to diabetes than others. In this context, University of Victoria must be commended for engaging the South Asian community in the diabetes self-management program, wrote Balwant Sanghera.

Under the leadership of Dr. Patrick McGowan, Professor, School of Public Health and Social Policy, University of Victoria, Jay Bains and other members of his team have done an excellent job in creating more awareness about diabetes in our community.

It is very encouraging to note that this pilot project was conducted in Punjabi, the third most spoken language in Canada, after English and French. Also, the way the organizers of this project reached out to both male and female participants in the South Asian community, not only in Metro Vancouver but also from the Interior, North and Vancouver Island is commendable.

Dr. Gulzar Cheema and Dr. Pargat Singh Bhurji were joined by Dr. Paramjit Singh Sohal in urging the audience and through them the community that as individuals we need to take charge of our health. The two key ingredients they stressed in this regard were regular exercise and proper diet. However, other lifestyle changes such as a positive attitude, relaxation and regular checkups also go a long way in this regard.