Candle in hand, Gurinder Pal Singh stands shoulder to shoulder with about 15 people during a Friday vigil at Victoria’s Centennial Square for a man who was killed in Truro, Nova Scotia on Sept. 5.
Earlier this week, Truro police confirmed 23-year-old Prabhjot Singh Katri, who came to Canada from India in 2017 to study, was the victim of a homicide.
Singh, a co-founder of the Sikh Youth of Victoria, organized the vigil because Katri’s killing has been painful for his community. He also first came to Canada for school and said the thousands of students from India who come here every year are assured it’s a safe place.
“When this sort of thing happens, it creates a fear,” Singh said.
Truro police said on Sept. 7 that they didn’t have any evidence to suggest the killing was hate-motivated at the time, but Chief Dave MacNeil said “should it become clear, through our investigation, that that is a motive or a factor in this case, then appropriate charges will be laid at the time.”
“Mr. Singh was a hardworking young man with a bright future and this is an absolutely senseless and tragic loss of life,” MacNeil said during a press conference.
But for Singh, and others who wear turbans, he said the incident has created unease. It also comes after the Taliban reclaimed power in Afghanistan last month and Singh said people have called him a member of the terrorist group as he’s just been walking around the city.
“They don’t even know we have nothing to do with those guys, we are from Punjab in northern India – totally different religion and beliefs,” he said, adding that people of more than 15 countries wear turbans but have different beliefs, languages and cultures.
“You’re just trying to judge a book by the cover and we need to stop this.”
He hopes governments will try to better educate people and increase awareness that Canadians represent a wide range of backgrounds, religions and cultures.
“We need to create a society where we just understand each other and accept each other instead of just tolerating each other,” Singh said.
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