New Canadian Media

AMRITSAR – The American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (AGPC) welcomed US President Barack Obama’s statement on Article 25 of the Indian Constitution that gave freedom of faith and right to propagate one’s religion.

AGPC president JS Hothi and coordinator Pritpal Singh said Obama “rightly warned” India if this provision was not followed in true spirit and substance it would curtail the right to freedom of religion and might lead to splintered society on religious grounds.

AGPC leaders said, “We are extremely thankful to the President for raising the issue of religious freedom on the Indian soil. He is right in saying that India must concentrate on religious freedom, if it wants to stay united.”

They said India had not been following the Constitution in the true spirit and the minorities were under attack in the country. They alleged the Sikhs had been facing the “worst-ever discrimination and their voices were being subdued”.

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Published in India

VANCOUVER - The World Sikh Organization of Canada has successfully assisted a Sikh student barred from wearing his kirpan into the Law School Admission Test (LSAT).

Ishwer Singh Basra, an amritdhari (initiated) Sikh, was scheduled to write the LSAT on September 27, 2014.  Upon arriving at the test centre in Burnaby BC, Ishwer Singh’s kirpan was spotted by a proctor.  Despite being explained its significance, the proctor said the kirpan would not be permitted in the test centre.  The proctor then proceeded to call the Law Society Admission Council (LSAC), the body that administers the LSAT, and said that there was a student carrying a “knife” and insisting it was for religious purposes.  After a brief phone call, the proctor reiterated to Ishwer Singh that his “knife” would not be allowed.

Ishwer Singh was given the option of either removing the kirpan and being allowed to write the test or forfeiting the exam and writing another day in which he would once again be told to remove his kirpan.

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Published in Education

 THE World Sikh Organization of Canada has successfully assisted a Sikh student barred from wearing his kirpan into the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Ishwer Singh Basra, an amritdhari (initiated) Sikh, was scheduled to write the LSAT on September 27, 2014.  Upon arriving at the test centre in Burnaby, Ishwer Singh’s kirpan was spotted by […]

Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in National

THANKS to a report by the Globe and Mail newspaper a couple of weeks ago about how the City of Brampton had refused traffic-safety measures for a Sikh private school that was functioning where previously there had been a publicly-funded Catholic school, those common-sense measures are being put back in place. They include a new crosswalk, school zone signs and a crossing guard.

Marilyn Ball, Brampton’s chief planning and infrastructure services officer, told the newspaper that the measures were because this is a pressing public safety issue.

Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in National

THE World Sikh Organization of Canada on Friday condemned the racist vandalism of the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara in south Edmonton.  Two phrases, including “Leave Canada,” were found spray-painted on the outside of the gurdwara on Friday.

The WSO has been in contact with members of the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara and offered its support and assistance in dealing with this incident.

Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in National

   THE World Sikh Organization of Canada said Wednesday it helped Master Seaman Wanda McDonald become the first Sikh woman to wear the turban while serving in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). McDonald, a Sonar operator based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia, joined the RCN in 1997 and became interested in the Sikh faith three […]

Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in National

Tim Uppal, Minister of State for Multiculturalism, on Wednesday participated in Langar on the Hill, which brought Canadians together to learn about Sikhism. “I would like to thank the many young Sikh volunteers from the Sikh Youth Foundation for their work to make this day possible,” said Uppal. “This is a wonderful opportunity for […]

Indo-Canadian Voice

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Published in National

TORONTO – Ontario’s openly gay premier Kathleen Wynne has no sympathy of other visible minorities as she this week refused to provide an exemption on the Helmet law for turbaned Sikhs which has been place in other Canadian provinces, including here in BC, as well as many other countries around the world.

In her haste decision, Wynne has washed all the hard work the Sikh community has done in getting the helmet law exemption in Canada down the drain.

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Published in National

By Awtar Singh

LOS ANGELES: When the Partition of India happened, I was 20 years old and our family lived in Lyallpur (now Faisalabad) where my father was a rich contractor-cum-brick kiln owner.

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Published in South Asia

by Batoul Hreiche in Ottawa

Most girls grew up singing in front of their bathroom mirrors and into their hairbrushes, in hopes of one day becoming famous singers. That childhood routine was somewhat different for me. After I finished brushing and tying my hair, I took up the role of a news anchor – the mirror being the camera. I went over every news event I recalled seeing or hearing about, from the day before, while watching the late-night newscast with my family. I usually included a line similar to this: “And now we have John reporting for us from the scene. John, how are the neighbours reacting?”

Throughout my primary and elementary schooling, I spent most of my recesses interviewing schoolmates for “my show” or “my news segment.” I even had a camera crew! And when I wore the hijab at the age of eight – exactly 13 years ago – I became even more fervent about pursuing my dream. This time however, my image in the mirror no longer presented me with my high-styled ponytails, but rather, with a gracefully pinned hijab.

And now that I'm grown up, my dream is to become Canada’s first hijab-wearing anchorwoman.

Always ready

I do not recall the exact moment in my childhood when I realized I wanted to become an anchorwoman. I’ve been passionate about the news since I was a very young girl. My school work was mostly geared toward media-related issues, and I was always shocked when my friends were unaware that a natural disaster had killed hundreds or that wars were taking place around the world. Furthermore, I was never one to shy away from a camera. I spent a lot of my time competing in public speaking contests and performing stage acts with Scouts Canada and in school.

There are certain characteristics a person must possess to become an anchor: I've had all of them for a long time. An anchor must be determined, committed and curious about the world around them, faithful in delivering accurate news, and, of course, not camera-shy. My former school teachers saw these qualities in me and repeatedly expressed and wrote in my yearbooks that I will one day be a “promising” and “talented” newspaper or television journalist. 

When people ask what I want to do when I complete my journalism degree, my proud response is always: “I want to be Canada’s first hijab-wearing anchorwoman.” Most people look surprised, which makes the conversation a little awkward. To ease the tension, I joke: “At least no one will ever know I’m having a bad hair day!” 

Invisible aspects

I’m grateful to be born and raised in Canada. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be. However, it was a struggle growing up in two cultures: Canadian and Arab Muslim, Lebanese more specifically. My religion and cultural background exposed me to both worlds. Therefore, I was one of the very few girls in school that had to justify why I couldn’t wear shorts to gym class or why my lunch was occasionally foreign-looking. 

I often wonder about how I should present myself to strangers for the first time. The hijab on my head dictates the assumptions people draw about me before they wonder about the type of person I really am. My personal traits, such as being a “clean freak,” an obsessive student or just a tenacious woman, are essential to who I am, but perhaps less visible. 

A few months back, I wrote an article for Muslim Link, an Ottawa-based community newspaper. In the piece, I discuss how my ethno-cultural and religious background affected the way people perceived my success in the field of journalism. Upon graduating from high school, I received discouraging comments for deciding to pursue my education at Carleton University’s well-regarded journalism program. I was told that since I’m Arab, Muslim and wear the hijab, my voice wouldn’t be heard. I also wrote that journalism was the wisest decision I’ve ever made.

The response I got from some family and friends is understandable, considering that the diversity of our religious minorities is not readily apparent in Canada's broadcasting industry. That is when I realized, in hindsight, that my imaginary reporter, Caucasian ‘John', was not so off-the-mark. 

I do not wish to hold Canada’s broadcasting industry responsible for this void. We Canadians flaunt our diversity and our freedom of religion and expression. But, I wonder why there has yet to be a Sikh anchorman wearing a turban, or a Jewish man wearing a yarmulke or even a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf.

Multiple identities

The integration of religious minorities is not an easy process. Religious minorities are faced with presumptions that stem primarily from their appearance. They should not view these presumptions as grounds to not assimilate into specific sectors in society. That could be one reason why the media lacks turbans, yarmulkes and hijabs. Perhaps, we should see this reaction as an opportunity to make our struggle that much more endearing. 

My faith and my pluralistic identity oblige me to be representative of all Arabs and Muslims in Canadian society. And through my education at Carleton University’s well-regarded journalism program, I recognized that my experiences and stories are a significant factor in how I perceive myself and my future. 

With only a year left before I graduate and enter the world of journalism, my hopes and dreams are only getting loftier. If doors do open up for me and my dream becomes reality, I aspire to become an appropriate image for those who wish to break what the mainstream public is wired to see.

Many women or young girls may dream of accomplishing a similar path, but my distinction is exemplified by a thin layer of fabric wrapped around my head. Every so often, I research whether or not another Muslim Canadian woman has attained this mission already. Thus far, no woman claimed the spot.

I want to be that woman.  

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

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