Edmonton police investigate racist, harassing incidents against Sikh community

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Edmonton police investigate incidents involving racism, harassment of Sikh community
WATCH ABOVE: Members of Edmonton's Sikh community are speaking out about a rash of what they say are hate-related incidents at a temple in Mill Woods. As Chris Chacon reports, police are now investigating – Jul 3, 2021

Edmonton’s Sikh community says it has been the target of hate for several months.

Gurpreet Kaur, with Sangat Youth, said Singh Sabha Gurdwara in southeast Edmonton has been receiving harassing, racist and anti-Sikh phone calls several times per day since March.

Kaur said the situation has escalated recently with meat that is prohibited at the Gurdwara being delivered to the location.

“Just calling local businesses and letting them know to drop something off at a specified address and that address ends up being the Gurdwara, which the caller is definitely well aware of,” Kaur said.

“The meat products and the meat will get delivered here right at the steps of the Gurdwara, which is prohibited, and then the caller will ask us how we like the meat.”

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Kaur said Edmonton police are investigating and a few local non-profit organizations have stepped in to provide there support as well.

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“We have the Alberta Hate Crimes Committee helping us, we have the John Humphries Centre for Peace and Human Rights, we have Social Stride Advocacy helping on the online front, combating any online hate, and then EPS has been actually really helpful,” she said.

“They’ve brought in the Hate Crimes Unit and hopefully cybercrimes as well. They’ve come and visited as well and they’ve been super super helpful.”

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Edmonton police have confirmed to Global News the Hate Crimes Unit and Violent Extremism Unit are investigating the incidents.

Alberta Hate Crimes Committee Vice President Irfan Chaudhry said the committee is helping to document the situation, which he said is vital.

“Really being able to work with members from the community just to give that acknowledgement that, yes, something is definitely happening that could likely be motivated by hate or bias towards this group, and then what can we do about it,” Chaudhry said.

“Just being able to make sure everything is documented, making sure conversations with police, who, file numbers, registration of officers, just so there’s that continuity so it doesn’t, kind of, get lost in the weeds.”

READ MORE: Police say Edmonton’s Indigenous population is ‘highly victimized’ amid rising racism in city

Kaur said the situation has been challenging for members of the Gurdwara and she hopes Edmontonians will help simply by being vigilant.

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“We’re hoping with more eyes on the situation and with more ears lending a hand we’ll definitely be able to find them and hopefully, fingers crossed, they stop, because that’s our goal — is not even anything to do with the law, it’s just to get them to stop,” she said.

Kaur is asking anyone with information about the incidents to report it to Edmonton police.

Edmonton police said there have been 44 hate-motivated crimes reported to them so far this year. Police said there were 60 such incidents reported in 2020 and 57 in 2019.

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