Minaret at Newton’s Surrey Jamea Masjod mosque. (File photo Tom Zytaruk).

Vigil to be held for Surrey Sikh temple caretaker, victims of Quebec mosque shooting

Six worshippers were killed and 19 injured when a lone gunman opened fire at Quebec City mosque

  • Jan. 31, 2018 12:00 a.m.

A vigil will be held in Holland Park in Whalley Saturday afternoon to remember those killed and injured last year in the mosque shooting in Quebec City as well as a Sikh temple caretaker who was beaten to death by skinheads in Surrey 20 years ago.

Nirmal Singh Gill, 65, was killed by skinheads in January 1998, beaten to death in the parking lot of the Guru Nanak Sikh temple on Scott Road during his late night watch. Two men were sentenced to 18 years in prison for the crime while another three men got 15 years each.

A march against racism in 1998, in response to Gill’s death, drew about 2,500 participants in Whalley.

On Jan. 29, 2017, six worshippers were killed and 19 injured when a lone gunman opened fire at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City, after evening prayers.

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The suspect, Alexandre Bissonnette, 28, is charged with six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder while using a restricted gun. His trial is set for March 26.

Imtiaz Popat, of the Coalition Against Bigotry-Pacific, said that group as well as the Pakistan Canada Association, Radical Desi and the Council of Canadian Muslims are holding the 4 p.m., Feb. 3 vigil at Holland Park, at 13428 Old Yale Rd.

“I think we need to remember what happened because also 20 years ago Nirmal Singh Gill was murdered at the Gurdwara in Surrey,” Popat told the Now-Leader. “So we’re marking the first anniverary of the Grand Mosque massacre but we’re also marking the 20th anniversary of Nirmal Singh Gill’s. It’s all connected; it has happened here, it can happen here.” He said his organization was formed about a year ago, “when the KKK literature started coming out in Abby.”

“We had Soldiers of Odin protesting outside mosques in Surrey, recently right,” he said. Last June that group caused a stir in social media after roughly a dozen people rallied on the sidewalk outside Newton’s Surrey Jamea Masjod mosque at 124th Street and 72nd Avenue. There were no arrests.

It’s the second vigil for victims of Quebec’s mosque shooting to be held at Holland Park. The first was held Feb. 3, 2017 by the Amazing Tutors Children’s Foundation.

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