Phantom gurdwaras taking advantage of Canada religious immigrants

Sikh representatives say the federal government has long ignored their warnings about the unique form of immigration fraud, reports Calgary Herald

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At the address for a Sikh temple in Fort Erie sits a long-abandoned motel surrounded by scrub land overgrown with weeds, and fronted by a no-trespassing sign. PHOTO BY TOM BLACKWELL / NATIONAL POST
By Tom Blackwell | CANADA |

FORT ERIE, Ont. —Judging from its online presence, the Sikh temple that purportedly sits on the edge of this Niagara-region border town is a lovely spot.

“They serve food all time with good flavoured chutney and the taste is superb,” says an August 2019 review on the Fort Erie Khalsa Darbar’s Facebook page. “The place of god to relax and calm your mind. “

The social media page and the temple’s website reinforce the pleasant image with photos of devotees and succulent-looking food.

What actually exists at its address in Fort Erie is something else: A long-abandoned motel surrounded by scrub land overgrown with weeds, and fronted by a no-trespassing sign.

The land is zoned rural. “A place of worship,” says Janine Tessmer, a spokeswoman for the town, “would be considered a zoning infraction.”

There is no temple, in other words. Yet Fort Erie Khalsa Darbar, incorporated as a federal non-profit in April, 2019, and granted religious charity status this February, has sponsored at least three priests to come here from India on special visas issued by Ottawa.

In lower mainland British Columbia, a priest from India says he had to pay $29,000 to have gurdwara leaders sponsor him for a work permit to preach in what turned out to be a phoney temple. He says he and his young family are now destitute.

Read full story ”Shocking’: How phoney Sikh temples are taking advantage of religious immigrants’ (Calgary Herald, 25 Sept 2020), here

 

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