UPDATE: Hundreds attend Surrey vigils to honour U.S. temple shooting victims
About 2,000 people attended a candlelight vigil in Surrey Tuesday night for the victims of a mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin on the weekend.
The vigil, held at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara at 7050 120 St., was organized to pray for the victims and their families, as well as for the man who shot them.
On Sunday, U.S. Army veteran Wade Michael Page opened fire during a service in Oak Creek, killing six people before taking his own life.
A peace prayer and candlelight vigil began at 6 p.m. at the Surrey gurdwara, with a message board set up in the Langar Hall (communal kitchen) where those attending expressed their feelings. The board and $5,000 will be sent to the Wisconsin gurdwara where the shooting took place.
According to gurdwara president Bikramjit Singh Sandhar, including prayers for Page in the evening was an important part of the process.
"We just pray so that these type of people in this state of mind ... that God give them a better way of life and not wasting life and not taking life," Sandhar told The Leader Wednesday. "It's a community problem, not just a Sikh problem."
The two-and-a-half hour event was extremely powerful, he said.
"It's a very warm feeling, a very comfortable feeling, with that many people from that many backgrounds, different societies...," Sandhar said. "This is what God really wants us to (do), bring about solutions and think about change."
Surrey-Tynehead MLA Dave Hayer, whose father Tara Singh Hayer was murdered in 1998, spoke out against the violence.
"This was the act of a madman," said Hayer. "But it is indicative of the unacceptable level of violence, hatred and racism that regrettably still exists today. We all must, in honour of those who lost their lives, and their families, condemn this act of violence and motives behind this tragedy and work tirelessly to prevent these attacks against innocent people from happening again."
A candlelight vigil and prayers also took place Tuesday at Lakshmi Narayan Mandir (8321 140 St.) in Surrey.
The Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara will also be holding special prayers on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. People are welcome to bring in notes for the message board until the Sunday service.
- with files from Kevin Diakiw