Lasalle Roads Close for Sikh Parade Sunday, May 22

 

Members of Lasalle’s SikhTemple Association plan to hold a procession on Sunday, May 22 to celebrate the Khalsa Festival. Three flat-bed floats, a marching band and groups of people in orange turbans and white shirts will leave from the Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar at 7801 Cordner at 1:30 p.m. They’ll slowly follow the route approved by the borough council last March, which runs along Cordner to Lapierre, south to Newman, west to Thierry, north to Juliette, west to Lise, north to Danièle, northeast to Gervais and then east again on Cordner. They’ll arrive back at the temple at about 3:45 p.m.

Punjabi food will be served throughout the event from the temple kitchen in the basement and from five tents to be installed in the parking lot.

Local police are scheduled to oversee road closures and make sure that the parade and the festival afterwards proceeds calmly.

“We expect between 7,000 and 10,000 people to participate, depending on the weather,” says Hardev Singh, a Sikh Temple member who helps organizers when needed. Singh says that visitors come from Ottawa and Toronto to participate in the procession, which honours the first five people to be baptised into the Sikh Religion in 1699.

The Khalsa parade has taken place in Montreal every year since at least 1993, although it began in Lasalle in 1996, says Singh. “It used to be held downtown in Victoria Square, but the shop keepers there were always unhappy about losing business. After we bought land in LaSalle for our new temple in 1995 [their previous temple was located at 1090 St. Joseph in Lachine], we started gathering on that piece of land instead. Most of our route travels through a residential area, and people here really like it.”

(Note: This article first published in The Suburban, City Edition, p 1, May 18, 2011)

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Trust Broken between Tenants and Officials at Low Income Senior Residences

Lasalle— Two long meetings did little to reassure tenants in the seniors buildings on Gamelin that life will get back to normal anytime soon, despite several announcements fulfilling some of their needs. Instead, mutual distrust will keep the kitchen doors locked, non-profit groups in charge of finances, and tenants feeling helpless. “This is a terrible place to live,” said Lise Mitchell, a tenant at 720, after the meeting. “Whatever you do, don’t end up in a place like this.”

The three-hour meetings took place on Thursday September 22 at 760 Gamelin, and last Friday at 720 Gamelin. A buffet lunch preceded more than an hour of presentations by representatives from Montreal’s municipal housing authority (OMHM), local police, the CLSC, the Borough of Lasalle and the Saint Antoine and Vieux Moulin community centres. “For us, it was very important that we show that the four organizations, the Borough of Lasalle and the CLSC are working closely together,” said Louise Hébert, OMHM’s director of communications. “We are four organisms who have received complaints about serious abuse and harassment in those buildings. We are putting more resources there because we want it to stop.”

The tense mood before, during, and after both meetings marked a sharp contrast to the sunny day in August when 92 people attended a corn roast at 760 Gamelin. That day wasn’t organized or attended by any officials, other than a Suburban reporter. Tenants collaborated to organize an afternoon of laughter, relaxed conversation combined with delicious food.

While almost half of the 720 tenants attended their official meeting, fewer than 30 tenants attended the 760 meeting. A tiny crowded room and the presence of three police officers in uniform may have kept more away. One police officer was on the official panel, but two additional uniformed officers arrived in police cruisers soon after the meeting began. A very loud woman was complaining outside of the room at the time, but she happily accompanied a reporter outside to express her complaints without force. No other disturbances were obvious. The Suburban already has a request in to interview the Lasalle police chief; we’ll add the reason for this show of force to our list of questions.

During both meetings, tenants quietly waited for their turn to speak while officials explained their roles and announced up-coming programs. Bingo games will resume in both buildings, garbage ventilation systems should be installed by November, and assertiveness training begins in October.

When tenants got the right to speak, they raised issues about locked kitchen doors, dirty public spaces, lengthy waits for repairs, over-bearing security, bullying and favouritism by officials and even mild assault. Many of their concerns were brushed aside, and in one case, a resident was told that the incident she described didn’t happen.

The meeting at 720 Gamelin seemed relatively smooth until Teddy Macintyre’s request to speak was refused. Macintyre commutes daily from Lachine to look after her 83-year-old father who has Alzheimer’s. She lived in 720 Gamelin until June, when she gave up the possibility of a two-bedroom apartment in Lasalle and sleeping on the couch was no longer possible. She also used to be president of the tenants’ association.

When officials refused her the right to speak, she stood up and yelled, “I knew you wouldn’t let me speak, I knew it.” At least thirteen other tenants also raised their voices and requested that she be allowed to talk, but officials refused. Despite many raised voices, Macintyre was the only person who had to leave the room.

(Note: This was published on p3 of the city edition of The Suburban yesterday.)

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