Sikh Funeral In Christian Church Denied

June 15, 2009

Author: Neil Corbett

Source: Abbotsford News

Abbotsford’s Sevenoaks Alliance Church has drawn ire from the Indo-Canadian community, after refusing to allow a Sikh funeral to take place there.

Jasmer Singh ‘Sher’ Braich, a successful farmer in Abbotsford for more than 45 years, and with extended family in the Abbotsford-Mission area, passed away June 4 after a stroke. He was active in the Mission Gur Sikh Temple, and a generous donor to many causes, according to good friend Charan Gill.

“He wanted to help people all the time,” said Gill, a well-known figure in the Lower Mainland for his advocacy work on farm labour, and other social issues.

In a media advisory issued Friday, Gill criticized the church for not allowing Braich’s funeral in its facilities. He described how the Braich family was unable to find a funeral home with the capacity for 1,700 guests. He said Sevenoaks Alliance initially took a booking, but withdrew the offer upon learning that Sikh prayers would be said during the service.

“We are very disappointed with the management of Sevenoaks Alliance Church who discriminated against the grieving Braich family,” said Gill, the CEO of Progressive Intercultural Community Services in Surrey. “We are curious to know what kind of sermons are being preached in a church which does not value and accept other faiths to freely practice their customs and prayers.”

The story has been picked up by Radio India and other media outlets, Gill said.