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Canada calling

A round-up of the latest news of the Punjabi community in Canada. This week we look at the recently held Sikh parades in different parts of Canada which attracted more than 2 lakh people in places like Surrey. Then we also note the achievements of Indo-Canadians in politics especially as some got re-elected in assembly elections. A fighting spirit of the Punjabi community could also be seen in the truckers managing to get their demands accepted after peacefully protesting against the authorities for "unfair treatment".

india Updated: May 10, 2012 13:45 IST
Gurinder Gill
Gurinder Gill
Hindustan Times

Parades attract crowds, controversies
The recently held Sikh parades in Surrey, Toronto and Malton broke previous records amid some controversies rising from Khalistani floats and support for Sikh militants Balwant Singh Rajoana and Davinderpal Singh Bhullar.

More than 2 lakh people attended the Surrey parade and nearly 1.5 lakh attended the Malton Sikh parade. Equally large numbers were seen at the Toronto Sikh parade. As usual, the parades showcased martial arts, marching bands, Canadian military trucks and singing school children. The routes were packaged with families, businesses and Indian-origin and Canadian politicians.

Five Indo-Canadians re-elected

Five Indo-Canadians have been elected MLAs to the recently elected 87 seats Alberta assembly. Defying predictions of pollsters, Alberta's long-ruling Progressive Conservatives elected their 12th straight majority government.

Progressive Conservative incumbent MLA Manmeet Bhullar (Calgary-Greenway riding) was re-elected to his seat. Another incumbent Naresh Bhardwaj (Edmonton-Ellerslie riding) who was first elected in 2008 was also re-elected along with incumbent Peter Sandhu (Edmonton-Manning riding). Liberal party MLAs Raj Sherman (Edmonton-Meadowlark), a doctor, who was named the new leader of Alberta Libelars in 2011, was also re-elected along with Darshan Singh Kang from Calgary-McCall riding.

Indo-Canadian truckers take anger to streets
Irked by the allegedly biased attitude of Canada's ministry of transportation (MoT) authorities, a large number of Indo-Canadian truckers took their demands to streets. Highway truck inspection activities came to a halt at the Trafalgar Inspection Station near Toronto for nearly a week as dozens of disgruntled Indo-Canadian truckers, mostly gravel haulers, parked their vehicles and blocked the inspection station, alleging overzealous ticketing by MoT enforcement officers.

A similar protest took place in North Bay area. A dump truck driver Gursewak Singh told HT that they were being "unfairly targeted" by MoT enforcement officials over new weight specifications. The blockade was lifted after their demands regarding axle weight tickets were met.

More Punjabi-speaking officers
The Abbotsford Police department has set a goal of ensuring that half of officers hired in future speak Punjabi or Hindi. Constable Ian MacDonald said currently only 6% of the department is made up of officers of South Asian descent, but in order to better reflect the community, that number should be around 15 or 16%. He said language barriers can sometimes cause issues for officers in a community that has a relatively high non-English-speaking population.

Kabaddi gets boost in Brampton
While the game of kabaddi is under fire from the Canadian immigration minister over allegations of human smuggling and visa misuse by Indian players, it has got a boost in the Punjabi-dominated Brampton city, which is set to become home to the province's first kabaddi stadium.

There are at least seven kabaddi federations in Canada, each with six to 10 sports clubs. These federations organise tournaments where locals and players from India compete. The sport has been around the Greater Toronto Area for years, but has never had a permanent home.

Organisers have had to criss-cross the city looking for grounds, playing everywhere from universities to city parks. Brampton city council approved funding for a $2.35 million stadium that will seat 2,500 and include more than 200 parking spaces. It is slated to be completed before July 2013. "I think this was very important for our community…because kabaddi is growing in the region of Peel, especially Brampton," city councillor Vicky Dhillon said.

First Published: May 10, 2012 13:37 IST