We stand strong, together.
And, with that strength, we never compromise on our principles.
Since December 11, 2018, when the Government of Canada's Public Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada included Sikhs as one of the top 5 terrorist threats in Canada today, we have been working hard with community partners to challenge this unfounded maligning of our community.
We put out our first public statement immediately, which began the community response to this disastrous report from the government - the inclusion of Sikhs in the report seemed like a clear capitulation to the Indian government narrative- and we began to follow it up with direct lobbying with elected officials across the country and informing community stakeholders, including Gurdwaras, of what the Canadian government just did.
We also began to reach out to media contacts in Canada, relationships which we have been proactively developing since our #AskCanadianSikhs campaign earlier this year - a campaign that was made necessary after Prime Minister Trudeau's bungled trip to India and the resulting anti-Sikh narrative that was born out it.
The Globe and Mail then wrote a story, and made an observation we made clear in our initial statement, "the 2018 report added “Sikh extremism” as a new component of the terrorist threat in Canada, without providing an explanation for this addition"
This would be followed up by more public statements from large Sikh stakeholders like the Ontario Gurdwara Committee, British Columbia Sikh Gurdwaras Council, and the Ontario Khalsa Darbar.
The National Post then picked up the story, including the statements from large community stakeholders, which posited a very important question - "why now?".
From the article:
But several Sikh organizations, representing some of the half-million Sikhs living in Canada, said Wednesday that pro-Khalistan activism is being falsely equated with extremism and wondered why Public Safety Canada was publicizing the threat now when the report makes reference to only historical acts of violence.
“We see activism on the ground here in Canada with respect to different issues, but there’s nothing to suggest violence of any sort,” said Balpreet Singh, legal counsel for the World Sikh Organization of Canada. “It damages our reputation.”
We made it clear as a community that we will not compromise on our principles - especially as the WSO, as our mandate is to promote and protect the interest of Sikh Canadians.
During this time we also kickstarted a grassroots call to action, which included letter writing to Members of Parliament, and spreading the news and information to fellow citizens.
We tracked a noticed uptick in engagement and traction everywhere.
Our engagement strategy was working - an open letter to Minister Goodale, requesting an immediate explanation and meeting, was then release.
Then came the tipping point.
Elected officials, from the Conservative Party of Canada, the New Democratic Party at the federal and provincial level, the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, and city councillors began to call out the Government of Canada for slandering the Sikh community on unfounded grounds.
More stakeholders started to put statements out as well, adding to a growing chorus of dismay with the report.
And, then the Liberal Party MP, Randeep Sarai, spoke out as well - as quoted in the National Post - "He calls on Goodale to “immediately” remove the heading “Sikh (Khalistani) Extremism” from the report, and goes on to say that changes should be made to ensure that no group, Sikh or otherwise, is mentioned in future by their religious or ethnic background in such a sensitive report."
We are not done yet.
But, we need your support to continue.
Our team is made up of staff, volunteers, and supporters from the community.
As a non-profit, we rely on private donations to sustain our work advocating on behalf of the Sikh community.
We have seen the strength of third-party advocacy on multiple occasions this past year as the Canadian government has fumbled our community issues -whether that is the India trip debacle and following anti-Sikh narrative, the security sharing framework with India putting Sikhs in danger, and now this terror report maligning our community and our reputation.
We thank you for your support, the time you give to ensure our community stands strong, and the past donations you have given.
But, we need to keep it up.
We thank you in advance for making a one-time donation or becoming a monthly donor.
We look forward to providing you with more updates shortly!
Jaskaran Singh Sandhu
Executive Director, World Sikh Organization of Canada.