2013 NEWS ROUNDUP: JANUARY TO JUNE – MAY

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DUHRE MURDER: ALKHALIL TO FACE CHARGES

Vancouver Police confirmed that Rabih “Robby” Alkhalil, 25, a former resident of Montreal, was being extradited from Greece to face murder charges in the January 17, 2012 killing of Sandip Duhre, 36, at the Bar One restaurant in downtown Vancouver Sheraton Wall Centre in the 1000-block of Burrard Street.

Local media had earlier reported that Alkhalil was a suspect in Duhre’s murder and that Vancouver Police suspected that Dean Wiwchar was the hitman.

Alkhalil and Wiwchar were allegedly involved in the June 2012 murder of mobster Johnnie Raposo in Toronto. Wiwchar was arrested just after the Toronto murder, while Alkhalil fled to Greece. Alkhalil is also wanted by police in Montreal and Niagara, Ontario.

Superintendent Mike Porteous of the Vancouver Police Department’s Investigation Division said that Alkhalil was “a key participant” in the murder that took place in “a busy restaurant, which was occupied by innocent patrons and the Women’s National Cuban soccer team.”

He added: “We believe this was a well-planned public execution involving a coordinated and deliberate effort to carry out the murder. We also believe it was a contract killing related to the ongoing Lower Mainland gang conflict.”

 

 

TRAGIC ACCIDENT KILLS FIVE

Gurmit “Jolly” Sachdeva of Surrey lost his wife, son, daughter, mother and sister in a horrific crash at 176th Street and 32nd Avenue at about 11 a.m. on April 28 that Surrey RCMP said was one of the worst they had seen in 20 years.

Sachdeva, who runs Sachdeva Sweets and Restaurant in 7500 Scott Plaza, also had twin babies who were not involved in the crash. His sister leaves behind her husband and two teenage children.

The family were returning from a prayer service and were to celebrate their son’s fifth birthday when their northbound 1994 Toyota Corolla was T-boned by the driver of a 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan, who police said allegedly failed to stop for a red light.

The minivan driver, Daniel Gore, 46, from Langley, was said to be in serious but stable condition in hospital. Later, he passed away following surgery for a condition that was discovered as a result of being critically injured in the accident.

RCMP said that although there is no red light camera at that intersection, cameras nearby may provide some evidence.

The BC Coroners Service confirmed the identities of the five family members who died: Sachdeva’s daughter Jessica Sachdeva, 3, son Annish Sachdeva, 5, wife Pawandeep Arjot, 31, who was driving, sister Neelam Rani Dhingra, 47, and mother Vidya Wanti Sachdeva, 68. All died at the scene.

A makeshift memorial was setup at the scene of the crash as horrified members of the public who did not even know the family came to express their sympathy and place bouquets.

The crash was so horrific that debris lay scattered for some 150 metres.

 

 

MISSING KIRTAN JATHA MEMBER FROM INDIA FOUND

Abbotsford Police announced that a detective from their Major Crime Unit had made contact with Gurnam Singh, 30, the member of a kirtan jatha from India at Abbotsford’s Gurdwara Sahib Kalgidhar Darbar who was to have caught a flight to India on April 28, but was reported missing.

Police said: “It was determined that Singh was staying with an acquaintance in Calgary.”

Gurnam Singh was reportedly sponsored for the Abbotsford gurdwara by a former president of Surrey’s Guru Nanak Gurdwara and recommended by an Akali Dal MLA in Punjab, India.

Abbotsford Police said that he was reported missing by his work sponsor on April 29.

Police said at the time: “The prior evening, at 9:30 p.m., Singh left a temple in the 30600 block of Blueridge Drive and went for a walk.  He didn’t return. Singh had been in Canada working at that temple since November 2012.  He was scheduled to return to India on a flight departing at 1:20 p.m. [Sunday]. He did not make the flight.”

 

 

SOUTH ASIANS LARGEST VISIBLE MINORITY GROUP

New data from the National Household Survey (NHS) show that Canada was home to about 6,775,800 foreign-born individuals in 2011. They represented 20.6% of the total population, compared with 19.8% in the 2006 Census, said Statistics Canada.

In 2011, nearly 6,264,800 people identified themselves as a member of the visible minority population. They represented 19.1% of Canada’s total population, compared with 16.2% in the 2006 Census.

Combined, the three largest visible minority groups — South Asians, Chinese and Blacks — accounted for 61.3% of the visible minority population. They were followed by Filipinos, Latin Americans, Arabs, Southeast Asians, West Asians, Koreans and Japanese.

In 2011, 1,567,400 individuals identified themselves as SOUTH ASIAN, the largest visible minority group. They represented one-quarter (25.0%) of the total visible minority population.

The second largest group was CHINESE, who numbered just over 1,324,700. They made up 21.1% of the visible minority population.

Just under 945,700 individuals identified themselves as BLACKS, the third largest group. They made up 15.1% of the visible minority population.

In B.C., Abbotsford experienced an almost 100 per cent increase in the Sikh population: 28,235 in 2011 as compared to 16,780 in 2001. Immigrants from India accounted for half of the 5,935 immigrants who settled in the Abbotsford census area between 2006 and 2011.

In B.C., the top three countries from which immigrants moved here were China (14 per cent), India (12 per cent) and the U.K. (11 per cent).

In Canada: Christians 67.3% (Roman Catholics 38.7%), No religious affiliation 23.9%, Muslims 3.2%, Hindu 1.5%, Sikh 1.4%, Buddhist 1.1%, Jewish 1%

In Metro Vancouver, only 41 per cent of the population is Christian and more than 41 per cent say they have no religion. Sikhs form 6.8 per cent (156,000) of the population. Buddhists make up 3.4 per cent of the population, followed by Muslims at 3.2 per cent and Hindus at 1.8 per cent.

Forty-four per cent of the 455,000 Sikhs in Canada live in B.C.

 

 

BIRTH ANNIVERSARY OF GURU RAVIDASS

Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha (Vancouver) is hosted the 6th annual Nagar Kirtan in Burnaby on May 18 and this year’s event was dedicated to the 636th birth anniversary of Guru Ravidass, a proponent of a ‘casteless society’ where everyone lives in peace and harmony with each other regardless of their social or economic status. This year’s Nagar Kirtan also coincided with the organization’s 30th anniversary celebrations.

Under the presidency of Bill Basra of Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha, Vancouver, the Nagar Kirtan was started six years ago to mark the silver jubilee celebrations of the organization.

The Nagar Kirtan, also known as ‘Shobha Yatra,’ started from the Guru Ravidass Temple on Gilley Avenue in Burnaby.

 

 

FORMER DEVELOPER TARSEM GILL PLEADS GUILTY

Just last January, the third lawyer for former real-estate developer Tarsem Singh Gill withdrew. Robert Doran told B.C. Supreme Court that he wanted to withdraw as lawyer for Gill for ethical concerns and nonpayment of legal fees. Gill told the court that he had to apply for legal aid.

In 2011, Gill fired his lawyer David Crossin and hired lawyer Ian Donaldson. Last year, Gill fired Donaldson and hired Doran.

Gill and his lawyer Martin Wirick allegedly ripped off homeowners and financial institutions of some $40 million. Gill pleaded not guilty in the scheme that was uncovered back in 2002. The RCMP and Vancouver Police investigated the matter and charges were finally laid in 2008. Wirick pleaded guilty the following year and received a seven-year jail term.

But this month, Gill suddenly entered guilty pleas on two counts of fraud in the B.C. Supreme Court. The Province newspaper reported that Gill’s latest lawyer, Jason Mann, requested the judge to postpone sentencing until early next year mainly because his daughter was getting married in February.

Owners of as many as 77 different properties were impacted by the mortgage scam. The Law Society of B.C. has paid out almost $40 million to the victims.

 

 

HINDU PRIEST FOUND GUILTY OF SEXUAL OFFENCES

Karam Vir, 33, a Hindu priest at an Abbotsford temple, was convicted of two counts of touching a young person for a sexual purpose and one count of sexual assault in regard to two girls in his congregation who were 17 when the offences took place in late 2009 and early 2010.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Neill Brown ordered Vir remanded to custody until his sentencing that is scheduled for August 14 in Chilliwack.

The girls met Vir, who’s been in Canada on a work visa, on separate occasions when they came to the temple while having problems with boyfriends.

Vir built up friendships with them. There were private visits to his living quarters, socializing outside of the temple and hundreds of phone calls between Vir and the two girls who trusted him as a priest.

The judge said he believed the girls’ testimony in the way that Vir sexually touched them and found that they were fearful.

Later in the year, in September, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Neill Brown sentenced him to two and a half years in prison, saying that he had taken into account that Vir’s public fall from grace would be a strong deterrent against committing such crimes in the future.

Vir was given four months of credit for time served. He will be deported to India as soon as he is released from custody.

 

 

AHMADIYYA MOSQUE IN B.C. INAUGURATED

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at’s Baitur Rahman Mosque (House of the Gracious God) was inaugurated on May 18 and a raft of dignitaries attended the ceremony.

Baitur Rahman mosque is one of the largest mosques in B.C. and is located at 9750 River Road in Delta.

The mosque was inaugurated by Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, who champions the promotion of interfaith dialogue and world peace. It will be a place of worship for all.

The mosque will be a key venue for holding inter-faith dialogue and community activities with people of all religions in order to promote peace and harmony.

 

 

CHRISTY CLARK IS ‘COMEBACK BOSS’

* Amrik Virk, the only South Asian Liberal MLA, expected to be in Cabinet

* NDP’s Harry Lali and Jagrup Brar lose; Harry Bains and Raj Chouhan re-elected

The Liberals won a fourth majority government in a row and blew away pollsters and political analysts by a stunning victory. The NDP had a 20-point lead when the campaign began.

The Liberals won 50 seats (with 44.4 per cent of the total vote) – five more than what they had before the election – while the NDP bagged only 33 seats (with 39.5 per cent) – a loss of three seats. The Green Party made history by winning its first ever seat (Andrew Weaver in Oak Bay-Gordon Head on Vancouver Island) and won eight per cent of the total vote in B.C. Independent Vicki Huntingdon was re-elected from Delta South. The B.C. Conservatives drew a blank with 4.8 per cent of the total vote in the province.

Indeed, Premier Christy Clark proved to be the ‘comeback boss’ as one Liberal put it, although she lost her own seat in Vancouver-Point Grey to NDP candidate David Eby by 785 votes and would later have to run from another riding.

Interestingly, Mario Canseco, vice-president of Angus Reid Public Opinion, told the Globe and Mail newspaper that a major factor in the NDP’s loss may have been that party’s failure in getting out their supporters in the 18-34 age group, among which they had a two-to-one lead over the Liberals, to vote. On the other hand, the Liberals polled much better in the ‘55 years of age and over’ group that had a much higher turnout and was susceptible to the Liberals’ focus on the economy and jobs, he told the newspaper.

Clark’s confident and untiring style of campaigning is what finally won her the election.

On the other hand, NDP Leader Dix started appearing unsure of himself and his policies as polls showed his lead over the Liberals narrowing. In fact, he even looked desperate in the last week of the campaign.

Clark is quite deservedly relishing yet another victory – and she sure deserves to.

Yes, she waged a negative campaign by bringing up unsavoury facts about Dix’s past conduct – and that didn’t click with the people.

But then she also did what I had warned the NDP and Adrian Dix to watch out for several times: play on the fears of British Columbians about the NDP screwing up the economy.

And it finally worked!

This same ‘I CAN DO IT!’ style helped her win the party leadership back in March 2011.

 

 

SURREY’S TOP 25 UNDER 25: 10 SOUTH ASIANS

 

The Surrey Board of Trade awarded 25 winners in their third annual Surrey’s Top 25 Under 25 Awards event. The event celebrated the incredible initiatives of Surrey’s youth 25 years old or younger. The winners were chosen based upon a subjective analysis of their business or community achievements, leadership ability, community involvement, professional achievements and uniqueness of their business or community projects.

“Their community and entrepreneurial spirit were showcased through their nominations. We have amazing talent in these winners who will take our businesses now and in the future to amazing heights,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade (SBOT).

“At the Surrey Board of Trade it is in our mandate to grow our business community by instilling in our youth entrepreneurial support and spirit – and for them to be an active part of Surrey.”

The South Asian winners with their age:

* Akashdeep Villing: Various Organization, Volunteer – 25

* Gurinder (Gary) Mahesh: Mahesh Fitness & Athletics, Platinum Athletic Club – 22

* Kamal Sekhon: Ambitious Undergraduates Raising Awareness Together (AURAT) – 24

* Livleen Pannu: Youth Transforming Society + National Battle for Change – I AM Program – 18

* Madhav Goyal: TEDxSFU and Optima Institute – 20

* Manpreet Dhillon: Enactus SFU – 24

* Navjot (Navi) Sandhu: AVS Windows and Doors Ltd. And Tiger Pacific Ltd. – 25

* Rohith Manhas: SFU BC-India Mobility & International Business Assoc. – 21

* Saurabh Bangar: SOAR Philanthropic Society – 18

* Sukhmeet Singh Sachal: Students Without Borders – 18

 

 

TANRAJ SOHAL CONTINUES WITH CHESS VICTORIES

Tanraj Sohal, 16, won the 2013 Canadian Chess Championship in his Grade 11 level in Ottawa on May 19-20.

This is the eighth time that Surrey student Tanraj has won the Canadian Chess Championship trophy in his grade level. Tanraj earlier won the 2013 Fraser Valley Regional in Surrey and BC Provincial Chess Championship held in Richmond.

Canadian Chess Challenge is the annual event where each province is represented by their 12 provincial champions (one player each from Grades 1 to 12).

Canadian Chess Challenge is organized and sponsored by the Chess’n Math Association, Canada’s National Scholastic Chess Organization. Each player plays nine round robin matches over two days in their respective grade against each of the provincial champions.

 

 

ANMOL MATTU: RICHMOND SPORTS AWARD

Anmol Mattu, famous basketball player of Steveston-London Secondary School of Richmond, won the 2012 Richmond Sports Award for High School Female.

Anmol – whose name means priceless in Punjabi and Hindi – has dazzled everyone with her athletic prowess, relentless drive and sheer guts and has been featured in Asian Journal.

Anmol was on the high school team since Grade 8, winning one honour after another even while playing with girls much older and taller than her.

Four years ago, she told me that she had been going to Drive Basketball since Grade 3 where head coach Pasha Bains taught her “it doesn’t matter what my height is, I can still get the ball through the hoop and over those big girls.”

And her high school coach Les Hamaguchi told me back then that she had “an incredible future if she maintains her work ethic and the passion that she has for the game.”

And two years ago, when I asked her what advice she had to offer other girls, especially South Asian ones, she said: “If you have a dream, just follow it and just work your hardest to get there. Do whatever you can to get there. There’ll always be obstacles in the way, but no matter what, just push through them with dedication and hard work and you will get the results.”

Now Anmol is headed to the University of Calgary.

Indeed, she’s an outstanding role model for South Asian girls.

 

 

KAMAL DHILLON: YWCA AWARD

Kamal Dhillon, President of Black and Blue Sari, received the prestigious YWCA Women of Distinction Award for Community Building.

There were six South Asians among the 83 women who were nominated for the 2013 awards and Dhillon was the only one who won an award.

Her citation read: “Kamal believes it takes one person at a time to eventually change a community and to transform a culture – that abusing women is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. She founded Black and Blue Sari with a vision to educate and empower communities to end domestic abuse. Since the release of her book in 2009, Kamal has spoken multiple times on local and international media to raise the profile of her message of ending domestic violence. She regularly counsels victims both in person and over the phone and gives her time to schools, professional women’s clubs and community centres to advocate and educate. Recently, Kamal was honoured with the Community Crusader Award from the Darpan Magazine and the Courage to Come Back Award from the Coastal Mental Health Association.”

The awards honour individuals and organizations whose outstanding activities and achievements contribute to the well-being and future of the community. This year the YWCA was celebrating the 30th year of the awards.

 

 

WEIGHTLIFTER HELENA BILLEN WINS GOLD

Helena Billen of Surrey’s Lions Weightlifting Club won the gold medal in the 53 kg category at the Senior Canadian Championship held in Edmonton on May 18 and 19.

After winning a gold medal in Junior National Championship and Senior Western Canadian Championship, Helena also participated in the Junior World Championship which was held at Lima in Peru from May 4 to 10.

Her coach, Makhan Sandhu, said that she is a very hard training weightlifter and was now being rewarded for it.

In the past, at the provincial level, Helena won the BC Doug Hepburn Championship (under 17 years) four years in a row and was declared best youth female lifter twice. She has also been a gold medal winner for the last four years in BC Junior and BC Senior weightlifting championships in the 53 kg category. She won gold three times in BC High School championships and was the best female lifter in 2012.

At the national level, she won silver in 2011 and 2012 and gold in 2013 at the Junior National Championships. In the Senior Canadian Championships, she won 4th place in 2011, 3rd place in 2012 and gold medal in 2013. In the Western Canadian Championships, she won a silver medal and three gold medals in the last four years.

At the international level, she qualified for the youth world championship in 2012 but decided not to go. In 2013 she represented Canada in the Junior World Championship held at Lima, Peru, in May.