Ottawa

Ottawa Sikh community sombre after Wisconsin shooting

Members of Ottawa's Sikh community will gather for a memorial service next Sunday after the "senseless and cowardly" shooting inside a Sikh temple in Wisconsin that left six people dead and three injured.

Members of Ottawa's Sikh community will gather for a memorial service next Sunday after the "senseless and cowardly" shooting inside a Sikh temple in Wisconsin that left six people dead and three injured.

The Ottawa Sikh Society condemned Sunday's attack in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in which witnesses said a gunman walked into the temple — or gurdwawa — and opened fire as several dozen people prepared for Sunday morning services. Police later shot the gunman dead.

"We condemn this senseless and cowardly act. Our hearts and prayers go out to the Sikh community in Oak Creek, Wisconsin," said the Ottawa Sikh Society in a statement Monday.

Dalwinder Singh, the principal of the Ottawa Sikh Society's Punjabi school, said it unimaginable that such an attack would happen in a temple.

"It's very shocking and it's also internally disturbing because you leave your worries and stresses behind to sit with the congregation and pray," said Singh.

Monday was the first day of the summer Punjabi camp at Ottawa's Sikh temple, the Ottawa Gurdwara Sahib. The camp, normally a lighthearted day shared by students and parents, was overshadowed by the events in Wisconsin.

"When the kids ask us this question...Mommy, this happened, why did it happen? It's hard for us...because one criminal can spoil it for all the others," said camp volunteer Prabhjot Sethi.

Another volunteer at the camp, 20-year-old Carleton University student Arjan Sethi, said they are counselling local Sikh youth to never give in to fear.

"We can't look at it and let us defeat us. We have to be stronger. It shouldn't make us scared of our faith, of what we should be doing," said Sethi.

A memorial service is planned for Sunday, Aug. 12.