31st December 2021 – This year like the previous one has been challenging for the world. COVID-19 pandemic is leading the world to a new world order. Other things that ruled the news this year were changes in geo-political situations and climate change. Among all this, we wanted to prepare a report which talks about how the Canadian Hindu progressed in this past year. What did the community do, what was their contribution to the Canadian society at large, what were some of the challenges they faced and if they were able to tackle those. This probably would be first-of-its-kind community report for Canadian Hindus. We have tried to be as exhaustive as possible and include events/incidents which mattered to Canadian Hindus in 2021. However, we do not claim that these were the only ones.
A. Car Rallies
A.1. Tiranga Yatra, Vancouver – The Indian community, mostly Hindus, held a Tiranga Yatra on 7th February 2021 in Vancouver from Strawberry Hill in Surrey to Consulate General of India in Vancouver to celebrate bilateral relations between India and Canada. The rally organizers were reportedly disappointed and saddened by the violence that took place at New Delhi’s Red Fort on Republic Day on 26th January 2021.
A.2. Tiranga and Maple Rally, Brampton – This rally was noticeably the most talked about car rallies by the Hindu community in this year. The rally which took place on 28th February 2021 in Brampton was reported to have over 400 cars. The organizers of the rally celebrated the strong ties between India and Canada. The group noted that “In times of such (COVID-19) crisis, Prime Minister Trudeau and PM Modi have come together to save millions of lives by approving and supplying millions of vaccines.”
A.3. Tiranga Yatra Holi Celebration, Edmonton – Over 400 Hindus and 250 cars gathered on 27th March 2021 at Heritage Valley Park in Edmonton to celebrate Holi and ‘Peace and Harmony Indo-Canadian Tiranga Yatra’.
A.4. Tiranga Rally, Calgary – This rally was organized in Calgary on 14th March 2021 where hundreds of Hindus participated and celebrated the friendly relations of India and Canada.
A.5. Several other car rallies were organized across Canada on Independence Day and other occasions
B. Fighting Hinduphobia and Hindumisia
Globally, Hindumisia and Hinduphobia are on the rise. Hindumisia literally means ‘Hindu Hate or Hindu Hatred’. Locally in Canada as well, the Hindu community is increasingly becoming victims of hate crimes and facing racial abuses.
B.1. Dismantling Global Hindutva, September 2021 – The DGH conference which took place on 9/11 anniversary was a blatant attempt by Hindu haters to malign Hinduism and Hindutva. The idea was to create fissures between the Hindu community. The organizers of the conference wanted to alienate anyone and everyone who did not conform to their definition of Hinduism or Hindutva. Three universities in Canada supported this conference and despite many requests, letters and protests from Hindu organizations the universities yet went ahead with the anti-Hindu event. The requests fell on deaf ears. The universities deliberately displayed one-sided and biased ‘freedom of speech’.
B.2. Hate Crime in Mississauga, September 2021 – While few Canadian universities were busy supporting the anti-Hindu DGH conference, a Hindu family was attacked in Mississauga and Peel Regional Police noted it as a hate crime. (read the full story here – https://hindutimescanada.ca/hindu-family-attacked-by-unknown-youth-in-mississauga-in-a-hate-crime/)
B.3. Racial Slurs and Abuses in Car Rallies – In all the prominent car rallies mentioned above, the Hindu community faced racial slurs and abuses. In Brampton, a man and a woman were assaulted during the car rally. A case was registered against the assailant, but he was later acquitted. The car rally in Edmonton is reported to have been delayed by 3 hours as the protestors blocked the route and shouted anti-India and anti-Hindu slurs. The situation was found so grave that the Indian High Commission issued a note verbale to the Canadian Government to ensure the safety to Indians in Canada (read the full story here – https://www.news18.com/news/india/india-issues-note-verbale-to-canadian-govt-over-assault-on-indian-community-3499919.html) . In Vancouver and Brampton, it was also reported that many Hindu businesses faced discrimination for their support to these car rallies. The businesses started getting negative reviews on Google by unknown individuals who had not done any business with them.
B.4. BAPS Vaccination Center, April 2021– When BAPS, Toronto offered its premises to open COVID-19 vaccination clinic, an ex-Liberal MP tweeted that some people might not go the clinic at a Hindu temple for religious reasons (read the full story here – https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/ex-liberal-mp-slammed-for-saying-constituents-wouldnt-attend-vaccine-clinic-at-hindu-temple-for-religious-reasons) She did not apologize for her actions, but tried to justify what she meant.
B.5. Gauri Lankesh Day Proclamation, Burnaby, September 2021 – City of Burnaby proclaimed Gauri Lankesh Day on 5th September 2021 citing reasons such as the deceased journalist fought superstitions in Hinduism. This was an attempt to legitimize the Hinduphobia. (read the full story here – https://hindutimescanada.ca/city-of-burnaby-is-wrong-in-commemorating-the-gauri-lankesh-day-hindu-forum-canada/) After protest from Hindu Forum Canada, the Mayor regretted the language which was used in the proclamation.
B.6. Hindu deities on footwear, Alberta, July 2021 – International Hindu Foundation registered a formal complaint with Zumiez authorities when they found pictures of Hindu deities on their footwear. (read the full story here – https://hindutimescanada.ca/zumiez-removes-hinduphobic-footwear-from-its-stores-after-hindus-protest/) The store later removed the footwear both from their online and offline distribution.
C. Charitable Contributions
C.1. Vaccination Clinics at Hindu Temples – BAPS, Toronto opened its premises for COVID-19 vaccination clinic (read the full story here – https://toronto.citynews.ca/2021/04/13/baps-shri-swaminarayan-mandir-covid-19-vaccination-clinic/) The site helped in vaccinating over 21,000 people in GTA. The Hindu Heritage Center in Mississauga hosted two vaccination camps at their site which was very well managed by the volunteers of the temple management and Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (read the full story here – https://hindutimescanada.ca/2nd-vaccination-camp-for-covid-19-at-hindu-heritage-center/) Sai Baba Mandir Edmonton organized a vaccination clinic in November of this year. Hindu Temple of Kern County held 2 vaccination clinics in June and July 2021 (https://www.bakersfield.com/news/bc-nursing-students-hindu-temple-of-kern-county-to-hold-vaccine-clinics/article_e3f3a7d0-b738-11eb-a514-e77e7d426b2d.html) Hindu Society of Manitoba hosted vaccination clinic in July 2021. (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/hindu-society-manitoba-vaccine-clinic-1.6111634)
C.2. B.C. Flood Relief – Sewa Canada International Aid’s charity work is unparallel. It has run multiple campaigns at different sites across Vancouver to collect donations for flood relief. It is working closely with other charitable organizations such as Guru Nanak Food Bank to provide emergency food relief to the victims of BC floods.
C.3. Food Drives in Canada – During COVID-19, several Hindu organizations came forward to help the needy and less fortunate. Many food drives were run in collaboration with local and provincial government organizations. Hindu Forum Canada ran a food drive in collaboration with City of Mississauga. Hindu community in Calgary conducted a food drive on Gurpurab (read the full story here – https://hindutimescanada.ca/food-drive-conducted-in-calgary-by-hindu-community-on-gurpurab/) Ram Mandir Mississauga delivered food to seniors who could not go out during COVID-19. Bharatiya Multicultural Heritage Society, Calgary offered non-perishable food hampers to the needy.
D. Hindu Heritage Month
D.1. Alberta, August 2021 – The provincial government of Alberta announced that it would be celebrating Hindu Heritage Month in August of each year. International Hindu Foundation held a painting competition for children with theme ‘Hinduism and its significance in our lives’.
D.2. Ontario, November 2021 – Several events took place in Toronto to celebrate the Hindu Heritage Month. Hindu Forum Canada hosted 2 events in GTA (read the full stories here – https://hindutimescanada.ca/hindu-heritage-month-2021-kicked-off-in-style-in-gta/ and https://hindutimescanada.ca/update-on-hindu-heritage-month-celebrations-past-weekend/ ) Copies of Shrimad Bhagwat Gita were distributed to the dignitaries who attended the events. ‘Om’ Flag was raised in Brampton City Hall to celebrate the Hindu Heritage Month (read the full story here – https://hindutimescanada.ca/om-flag-raised-in-brampton-city-hall-for-hindu-heritage-month-celebrations/) Bhagwan Shri Ram was the theme at Toronto District School Board for these celebrations (read the full story here – https://hindutimescanada.ca/bhagwan-sri-rama-is-the-theme-for-hindu-heritage-month-at-tdsb/)
Final Remarks: As stated in the beginning, we do not claim that this report has covered all the events/incidents which mattered to Canadian Hindus. Those which were not covered are by no means less important or unworthy of reporting. It is our own limitation or lack of knowledge of those events. We wish all the very best for the next year. Hope you and your loved ones have a happy, prosperous and healthy 2022.