Gurdwara Elections: Gill Raises Questions About Haiti Relief Fund

By Sunil Narula


The Sikh Youth Slate & Chhina Slate are vying with each other in the upcoming Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara (Surrey-Delta) election that will be held on Sunday December 16. Approximately 21,854 members are eligible to cast their vote in this election where voting will start at 8 am and go on till 8 pm. The results are expected later that very night.

But even before the elections, on Wednesday a controversy of sorts erupted when former president of the Gurdwara, Balwant Gill held a press conference at India Banquet Hall in Surrey where Gill raised questions about the Haiti Relief Fund. The Haiti Relief Fund was raised in January 2010 to help victims of the devastating earthquake that had rocked that country. Balwant Gill came to the conference armed with photocopies of a newspaper which showed Sikh Youth’s then president, Bikramjit Singh Sandhar, standing with a cheque of 1.5 million dollars that had been raised for earthquake victims.

“In this photo you can clearly see that the amount mentioned on the cheque is 1.5 million dollars. But here I have with me copies of the financial statements (Gill showed those copes as well) of the Gurdwara that show that only $3,39,000 were sent to Haiti as relief. I’m just asking where did the rest of the money go? I’m not pointing a finger at anyone but the Sangat wants to know where did the balance amount of about 1.2 million dollars go? I have raised this question at the meeting at the Gurdwara a few times but I have not got any answer till now. Once, the president even told his supporters to show me the door when I inquired about this amount. So now I have called this press conference to ask this pertinent question once again,” Gill told reporters.

When The Voice contacted former president of Gurdwara, Bikramjit Singh Sandhar, he refuted these charges vehemently.

“I think it is very wrong for Gill to have called this press conference. There is no issue about the money at all. That 1.5 million dollars were raised collectively by four organisations. Three radio stations and Sikh Youth. That was the collective amount. A report was published in CBC News on Friday, January 22, 2010 where this fact was clearly mentioned. And I have never asked anyone to show the door to Gill. He is entirely wrong,“ Bikramjit told The Voice.

Supporters of Sikh Youth told The Voice that Gill was bringing this up now just because of the elections. While supporters of United Moderate Sikh Group (Chhina Slate) said Gill is bringing this up now because all his earlier attempts have failed to elicit any response.

The election of a new executive committee comes every three years and in the past, parties often wound up in court-appointed elections.

The 18-member Chhina Slate is made up of all new members and is listed as the United Moderate Sikh Slate with Jasminder Kaur Chhina running for president.

Their election manifesto promises to make every attempt to unite Canadian born children with Sikhism as well as make every effort to baptize Sikhs. They also hope to open a new Guru Nanak public school and to modernize the current Punjabi school. The manifesto also promises to meet the needs of seniors, offer free computer classes for all ages and to abolish the $25 membership fee.

The 18-member Sikh Youth Slate is made up of three returning members of the current committee, including treasurer, Rajinder Singh Dhaliwal, running for president.

The Youth Slate was voted in as executive committee in 2010 and the new committee plans to continue the programs & services the previous group started.

Their election manifesto promises to unite the community, focus on family by organizing social and family-based events. They also want to complete construction at the Gurdwara, continue religious education and provide interactive activities to inspire youth to the Sikh way of life.

All members can vote Sunday Dec. 16 at Princess Margaret Secondary School at 12870 72 Ave. in Surrey.