Sikhs and non-Sikhs across Canada and in Abbotsford are remembering six people who were fatally shot while at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin last Sunday.
The Abbotsford Khalsa Diwan Society will host a candlelight vigil Saturday evening and a memorial on Sunday to honour those who were killed and injured. The shooting has rocked the local Sikh community.
"This is the one safe place where people could go. There was [the shooting] in the mall in Toronto, and now in a church. What's a safe place now? Where do we go? I can't believe it," said Bhajan Toor, a director with the Khalsa Diwan Society.
A 40-year-old gunman with white supremacist ties opened fire on several worshippers in the Milwaukee gurdwara on Aug. 5, killing five men and one woman. The victims included Amardeep S. Kaleka, the 65-year-old gurdwara leader, who tackled the shooter but was killed in the scuffle. According to reports, the attacker was shot by police before dying of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Three other people were seriously injured, including a police officer who was shot several times by the gunman, described as a former U.S. military "psychological operations specialist." American investigators consider the attack racially and politically motivated.
In Abbotsford, Sikhs and non-Sikhs are invited to a candlelight vigil on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the heritage Sikh temple on South Fraser Way, across the street from the main temple.
On Sunday (Aug. 12), there will be a memorial also open to all community members starting at 10:30 a.m., at the gurdwara at 33094 South Fraser Way, Abbotsford.
"It's a way for us to show our sympathy for the families," said Toor.
This local remembrance event is part of an international, youth-led movement to unify Sikh temples and communities across the continents in sending a collective message of remembrance and tolerance in the aftermath of the massacre, and to demonstrate that all Canadians stand united against hate, said the organizers.
This international day of hope and healing is held to represent the Sikh community's promotion of love and peace, they said.
English translations of a religious hymn will be distributed before the event. You can find the Khalsa Diwan Society on Facebook.
The Sahib Kalgidhar Darbar temple, at 30640 Blueridge Dr., Abbotsford, will also hold a special reading of the holy book, Granth Sahib, from Friday night to the Sunday service, said temple society president Jit Sidhu.
"This loss of life, it's really very bad. We all look different, God made us like this. But everybody prays to God all in the same way, our blood is the same, we are the same," said Sidhu.
- with files from the Vancouver Sun