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WSO Gets Vancouver Sun  To Remove “Sikh” From Controversial Reporter Douglas Todd’s Kabaddi Story

“It is apparent that Mr. [Douglas] Todd is confusing and conflating religion and culture without discretion.  He refers to “Sikhs” being unhappy with “Punjabi athletes” and states that “Sikhs” are pleased with the construction of a kabaddi field and “some Punjabis” say it is “one of its kind in the world. Not all Punjabis are Sikhs and not all Sikhs are Punjabis,” the World Sikh Organization of Canada wrote in a letter to the Vancouver Sun.

VANCOUVER – The World Sikh Organization of Canada got the Vancouver Sun newspaper to remove references to “Sikhs” in their January 4, 2019 article written by controversial reporter Douglas Todd entitled “Half of Indian athletes who came to Canada failed to go home”.

Todd has faced criticism in the past for his stories that have been deemed anti-Sikh.

WSO had written to the Vancouver Sun to request the change.

Originally the piece included the following passages:

“While some Sikhs in Canada are unhappy with the way kabaddi athletes pay consultants to help them jump Canada’s visa and immigration queues, federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says in a government document that the special visa program for the mostly Punjabi athletes “provides benefits” to Canada”

and also,

“Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum won plaudits from Sikhs in B.C. and India in 2005 when he spearheaded construction of the only purpose-built kabaddi field in North America, at Sullivan Heights Park. Some Punjabis claim the costly facility, now known as the Bell Centre Kabaddi Stadium, is the only one of its kind in the world.”

WSO asked the Vancouver Sun and requested that references to “Sikhs” be removed.

On January 5, the Vancouver Sun agreed to the request and replaced “Sikhs” with “South Asians”.

Here is the original letter to the Vancouver Sun editorial team:

“We are writing with respect to Douglas Todd’s article “Half of Indian athletes who came to Canada failed to go home” published on January 4, 2019.

“While we appreciate Mr. Todd’s journalism and the seriousness of the matter, we take issue with the linking of the issue of missing kabaddi players to the Sikh community.

“Kabaddi is an ancient game that is popular across South Asia.  It is the state game of several Indian states, including Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and also the national sport of Bangladesh.  Kabaddi enjoys popularity in Pakistan and Iran as well.

“Tournaments that are organized in Canada are largely put together by members of the Punjabi community and extend invitations to players from both Indian and Pakistani Punjab.  While many Sikhs are indeed “kabaddi fans”, there is no link to this and the Sikh faith.  Enjoying kabaddi has nothing to do with the Sikh faith.

“A similar example could be that many NHL fans in Canada may be Christian but they aren’t fans because of their Christianity and their faith has nothing to do with the sport,” WSO wrote.

Mr. Todd in his piece states,

“While some Sikhs in Canada are unhappy with the way kabaddi athletes pay consultants to help them jump Canada’s visa and immigration queues, federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says in a government document that the special visa program for the mostly Punjabi athletes “provides benefits” to Canada.”

He also states,

“Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum won plaudits from Sikhs in B.C. and India in 2005 when he spearheaded construction of the only purpose-built kabaddi field in North America, at Sullivan Heights Park. Some Punjabis claim the costly facility, now known as the Bell Centre Kabaddi Stadium, is the only one of its kind in the world.”

“It is apparent that Mr. Todd is confusing and conflating religion and culture without discretion.  He refers to “Sikhs” being unhappy with “Punjabi athletes” and states that “Sikhs” are pleased with the construction of a kabaddi field and “some Punjabis” say it is “one of its kind in the world.”

“Not all Punjabis are Sikhs and not all Sikhs are Punjabis.

“Once again- while culture and nationality may be appropriate in this story, faith has nothing to do with anything.  Those Sikhs who are interested in the sport of kabaddi are not doing so because of their Sikh faith.  They are interested in the sport as a result of their Punjabi culture or as sports fans in general.  There is no relevance of the Sikh faith to this story and we are disappointed that references to the Sikh faith would be unnecessarily brought into the mix.

“We request that references to “Sikhs” be removed from the story and that in the future, better judgment be exercised when bringing religion into such stories,” WSO wrote.

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