04 November 2008

Good-bye, Dear Brother

Good-bye, dear brother. Remain in chardi kala. *sob*

I am trying to find a link to some fund for Laibar Singh's continuing medical care. When I find it, it will be prominently posted, probably in the header picture ewhere it currently says "SAVE LAIBAR SINGH. He is gone from our presence now, and his disability and needs continue.

From the Surrey Leader:

Kevin MacDonald video

Abbotsford News
Laibar Singh heads home to India

By Rochelle Baker - Abbotsford News

Published: November 04, 2008 9:10 AM
Updated: November 04, 2008 4:58 PM
Wrapped in a zebra print blanket and tears streaming down his face, Laibar Singh sat in his wheelchair at the Sikh temple in Abbotsford waiting for the taxi to transport him to the airport for his removal from Canada.

The paralyzed refugee claimant, who had sought asylum at the Abbotsford's Sahib Kalgidhar Darbar Gurdwara, relinquished his fight to stay in the country, and presented himself to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) before boarding a plane bound for India early Tuesday morning.

Before his trip to the Vancouver International Airport, emotional supporters encircled Singh to pat his shoulder, console him or tuck last-minute donations into his hand.

"As you can see, everybody is really down. It's really sad," said the temple general secretary Surdev Singh Jatana.

"He's very emotional. He's not happy, but he wasn't left with much of a choice. The government isn't going to do anything for him."

A few weeks ago, the 49-year-old widower decided to voluntarily return to the Punjab, saying he missed his four children and has tired of his struggle with Canadian authorities.

"He really appreciates all the Canadians and people who helped him in his struggle," said Jatana on Singh's behalf.

"But he feels let down by the government. He says 'Thanks for nothing.' "

Singh's lawyers made repeated applications for him to stay in the country on compassionate grounds, which were denied by immigration officials who said he did not have strong enough ties to Canada and could receive adequate treatment in India.

Singh originally came to Canada in 2003 on a forged passport and made a refugee claim, saying he faced persecution at the hands of Punjab state police.

His refugee claim was denied that same year and he fled from Ontario to B.C., where, working in Surrey as a painter in August 2006, he suffered a brain aneurysm that left him paralyzed.

Singh first sought sanctuary at the Abbotsford temple, or gurdwara, on Blueridge Drive in July 2007 after the CBSA issued a deportation order.

He spent five months there before seeking sanctuary in a Surrey temple after more than 1,000 supporters at the airport prevented his deportation in December 2007.

Singh returned to the Abbotsford temple in March after a stay in Surrey’s Guru Nanak Sikh temple.

The Sikh community has raised $38,000 to help Singh cover costs once he returns to his village.

However, Jatana is not convinced the sum will be enough to guarantee him adequate medical care.

"It's not really enough. He needs help for the rest of his life. You have to be able to afford quality care in India and not everybody can pay."

Temple president Swarn Singh Gill said the 40 or so supporters accompanying Singh to the airport would not block his departure as they had in the past.

Gill said he was making a trip to Punjab in the coming weeks and he hoped to check in on Singh when in India.