Sudbury

More dialogue needed to address religion-based violence, say faith groups

Aug. 22 marks the United Nations’ International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief.

Greater Sudbury more welcoming to Sikhs today, says community member

Karan Badesha says it was difficult to find work in Sudbury, when he arrived in 2015, but the city has since become a more welcoming place for Sikhs. (Submitted by Karan Badesha)

When Karan Badesha moved to Sudbury in 2015 he said his beard and turban made it difficult to find a job.

Badesha is Sikh and when he arrived in Sudbury as an international student, there were few Sikhs in the northeastern Ontario city.

"Somebody just told me, like, you have to chop your beard before you apply for a job, which was quite hurtful," he said.

"Back then, I still remember there were less than 100 people from our community with the international students."

In the seven years since, Badesha said the Sikh community in Sudbury has grown, and the city is more welcoming to newcomers.

"Sudbury is a beautiful town," Badesha said. "People are so loving, welcoming. And what I'm going to say is, yes, there are always elements that you can't just bypass. You go through incidents."

And while things are better for Sikhs, he said there's always room for improvement and more education.

Aug. 22 marks the United Nations' International Day Commemorating Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief. The day honours the survivors of genocide and other atrocities based on religion or ethnicity.

Badesha said the day is an important time to remember Canada isn't immune to acts of violence based on a person's religion.

He noted the incident on June 6, 2021, in which four members of a Muslim family in London, Ont., were killed and a man was accused of deliberately hitting them with his truck.

"Humanity has a long, long history with intolerance and hate based on religion," Badesha said.

Emily Caruso Parnell, is the board president with the Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue in Sudbury, and says it has been vandalized in the past. (Submitted by: Emily Caruso Parnell)

Emily Caruso Parnell, the board president with the Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue in Sudbury, said she has noticed religious intolerance has worsened in Canada.

She said people have vandalized the synagogue in the past, but there haven't been any cases of violence against people.

"Orthodox Jews are far more at risk of hate crimes than secular Jews," Caruso Parnell added.

Because Sudbury has a small Jewish community, Caruso Parnell said she teaches people about the religion more than she would have anticipated.

"I sometimes say it's a bit like being a leprechaun because most people in northern Ontario have never met a Jewish person," she said.

"And so, you know, their experience of Jewish people is really from movies and and from media, which isn't always the most accurate human description or human conception of what Jews and and Jewish culture and Jewish religion is like."

Caruso Parnell said Aug. 22 is a good time to "reflect on the things that are happening here and how we can, you know, stand in defence of communities that need help and in defence of communities that need support."

With files from Ashishvangh Contractor and Jonathan Pinto

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