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Ontario Assembly in Canada celebrates Baisakhi

For the first time, the Sikh holy book Guru Granth Sahib was brought to the assembly here on Monday to celebrate Baisakhi and the Sikh Heritage Month.

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Premier Kathleen Wynne paying obeisance during the Baisakhi celebrations in the Ontario legislative assembly. IANS
Toronto, April 19
Top leaders in Canada’s Ontario province led by Premier Kathleen Wynne joined the Sikh community in celebrating Baisakhi at the Ontario legislative assembly.For the first time, the Sikh holy book Guru Granth Sahib was brought to the assembly here on Monday to celebrate Baisakhi and the Sikh Heritage Month.Wynne and her cabinet ministers joined the Sikhs as ‘kirtan’ was performed and prayers recited to mark the birthday of the Khalsa in April 1699.

The Sikh community’s saffron flag Nishan Sahib was also hoisted outside the assembly building to mark the day.

“It is the first time in the history of Ontario that the holy Guru Granth Sahib has been brought inside the legislative assembly building, and the Sikh flag Nishan Sahib installed to mark Baisakhi day.

“It is a proud day for Sikhs in Canada,” said Indian-Canadian politician and former Ontario transportation minister Harinder Takhar at the Baisakhi reception at the assembly building Queen’s Park.

Baisakhi is the harvest festival of Punjab, which also marks the Punjabi new year.

Dressed in salwar-kameez and with her head covered, Premier Wynne praised the Sikh community for integrating into Canada’s multicultural society while still maintaining its rich heritage.

She said she was very happy that the Sikh holy scripture was brought to the assembly for the first time and it created an atmosphere of peace inside the house.

Such events “should happen more often” to create an atmosphere of peace and harmony so that more productive work can be done by assembly members.

Wynne, who visited India in February, stressed that her visit was as much about promoting business as connecting with people.

She lauded the hospitality and warmth extended to her wherever she went in India.

Recalling her visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, she said it was a very beautiful and serene place.

Ontario (Canada) legislative assembly. Wikimedia Commons
Ontario (Canada) legislative assembly. Wikimedia Commons

She said she was overwhelmed by the sense of volunteerism at the Golden Temple.

In a lighter vein, she said India was a place where so much news happens and travels very quickly.

“There are so many newspapers I wonder how they read them all,” she said.

As her picture of making chapatis at the langar (community kitchen) at the Golden Temple was splashed in the media across India, she said wherever she went after that, people would say: “You were the one who was making chapatis.”

The Ontario premier praised the decision of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to apologise for the Komagata Maru event of 1914 to rectify past mistakes.

What is Komagata Maru incidence? Read here: http://www.newsgram.com/komagata-maru/

She said her own party legislator Vic Dhillon will move a motion in the Ontario assembly on the Komagata Maru apology and ensure that no future immigrants are ever discriminated against in Canada. (IANS)

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh100@gmail.com)

Next Story

In the Name of Kabaddi, Punjab Youth Stay Back in Canada

"Misrepresentation and fraudulent documentation are of concern. Fraudulent documentation, including photo-substituted evidence of applicants playing kabaddi, have been encountered among the supporting documentation submitted with applications," it added

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A Kabaddi match (Representational image). Wikimedia

By Jaideep Sarin

Traditionally a tough, rural sport practised by ‘pehlwans’ in villages across the length and breadth of India, kabaddi has been flying high in recent years due to the money and glamour brought in by the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL).

This new-found professionalism has certainly helped the top-level players and turned this typically ‘desi’ sport into a lucrative career option.

But going by a longstanding trend in Punjab, the benefits are yet to trickle down to the average athlete at the village level in the state.

Generally considered to be one of the traditional powerhouses of kabaddi in the country, players from Punjab are making news in faraway Canada for the wrong reasons.

Nearly 47 per cent of the youth going to the country in the name of participating in Kabaddi tournaments have failed to return, a confidential report of the Canadian government has pointed out.

“In 2015, 2016 and 2017, visas were issued to 261 kabaddi players. Forty seven percent of them failed to report back to the migration office in Chandigarh, 26 per cent obtained work permits after entry to Canada and 1 per cent made refugee claims,” the internal report of Canada’s Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (Ministry), which is with IANS, has stated.

“While the rate of return increased from 42 per cent in 2015 to 62 per cent in 2017, the rate of persons obtaining work permits unrelated to Kabaddi has also increased from 21 per cent to 30 per cent,” it pointed out.

The youth are invited to Canada by kabaddi federations based there to play matches organised by the strong Indian community residing in the country.

“The rate of players who obtained work permits after entry to Canada (26 per cent) in 2015, 2016 and 2017 suggests that they intended to enter Canada primarily for long-term work unrelated to playing Kabaddi,” the report said.

Abhishek said it was all due to the league getting bigger and better every season.
In the name of Kabaddi, Punjab youth stay back in Canada. Wikimedia

Selection by a Canada-based kabaddi federation for visa facilitation effectively allowed the players to circumvent the conventional examination of work permit applications at a migration office outside of Canada.

With an increasing number of youth applying for Canadian visa in the name of kabaddi, the Canadian ministry, in 2017, had invited kabaddi federations in Canada to participate in a pilot programme related to the sport.

Players and federations were informed of the requirement to report back to the migration office at the conclusion of the season in Canada in December 2017. That year, 78 kabaddi players’ applications were approved for the four inviting federations. Of these, only 62 per cent reported back while 30 percent stayed back and obtained a work permit by presenting themselves with a labour market impact assessment at a land port of entry as “visa exempt” clients.

Among the four federations, according to the report, players of two federations had a rate of return of 29 per cent only. Players of the other two federations had an 88 per cent rate of return.

When contacted by IANS, officials at the national kabaddi federation refused to comment on the issue.

“The federation has nothing to do with this issue. These players go abroad on their personal initiative and at the behest of tournament organisers over there,” an official said on condition of anonymity.

Earlier, rate of refusal of visa applications for Kabaddi players was as high as 65 per cent (in 2014).

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Canada’s Chandigarh visa office receives the vast majority of temporary resident applications from kabaddi players wishing to play in Canada.

“Kabaddi players applying through Chandigarh are typically young, single unsalaried males with limited economic prospects in their home county. Most belong to rural agricultural families with modest land holdings which may be held in common with several persons. Most applicants play for their village club which is usually supported by local patrons. It is difficult to gauge a player’s skill or standing in the sport as there is no formal structure at this level,” the report pointed out.

“Misrepresentation and fraudulent documentation are of concern. Fraudulent documentation, including photo-substituted evidence of applicants playing kabaddi, have been encountered among the supporting documentation submitted with applications,” it added. (IANS)