“We really appreciate what the Americans have done,” said Bhupinder Singh Ubbi last Saturday evening in Nathan Phillips Square. “Obama has already given a statement that this was a murder of a citizen. They have taken care, all the ministries, from city to state to federal, to do everything they can.”
Singh, the chairman of the Ontario Sikh and Gurudwara Council, had just returned from a memorial vigil in Oak Creek Wisconsin, along with four other representatives of Toronto’s Sikh community. On Aug. 5, seven people were killed in a shooting in the town’s Sikh temple.
On Saturday, Singh was attending Toronto’s own vigil. The dark clouds that had loomed overhead for much of the day had cleared, and more than 500 people had gathered to pay tribute to the victims.
Not everyone shared Ubbi’s optimism about the situation down south, however.
“We feel that our identity was mistaken,” said attendee Major Singh. He pointed to shooter and white supremacist Wade Michael Page’s 9/11 tattoo as evidence that the killer believed Sikhs are Muslim. “It seems Americans don’t want to learn about other religions. I’m proud to be a Canadian because our leaders have shown to the world how peaceful we are.”
One member of the vigil’s organizing team, a young woman named Balprit Dhillon, said that while there is still misunderstanding in Canada—a friend of hers visiting Northern Ontario recently fielded a lot of questions about her turban—true hate still comes as a shock.
“In this day an age,” she said, “it just doesn’t make any sense.”