LADNER – A contagious smile and steadfast devotion, that is how Narinder Kaur Kalsi, 67, will be remembered.
The Riverside Funeral Home in Ladner was awash with family, friends and community members Sunday as they paid their respects to a woman who could not be summed up by a single word.
"A very good human being, caring, loving, a servant of the temple, a servant of the society and a smiley face. Even though she may have had problems, which I think most likely she was dealing with a lot of problems, she always smiled," said Dr. Pargat Singh Bhurji as he left the afternoon funeral service.
"The smile was contagious. It was catchy and made us all smile and forget about all minor things in our lives," he added.
Narinder Kalsi died Sunday, July 20 after she was taken off life support following a domestic dispute on July 13 at her home in the 19400-block of 32nd Avenue in Surrey that left her in critical condition.
Baldev Singh Kalsi, her husband and former president of the Gurdwara Sahib Brookside temple in Surrey, was arrested and originally charged with aggravated assault. That charge has since been upgraded to second-degree murder. He was removed from his position at the temple in the days following his arrest and he is scheduled to appear in Surrey Provincial Court on Aug. 6. Despite the tragic circumstances surrounding Narinder Kalsi’s death, her devotion and demeanor are remembered fondly.
"I was amazed at her age, she would be at the temple almost all day especially on weekends from early morning. She and her husband used to come early mornings and leave after the congregation had left to clean up and make it tidy. A very giving woman. Very, very smiling, very kind, very gentle, very humble, very motherly," said Bhurji.
The death of Narinder Kalsi highlights the issue of domestic violence and violence against women.
From 2010 to 2011 the rates of "intimate partner homicides against women" in Canada rose 19 per cent, according to Statistics Canada.
For Charan Gill, CEO of Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society and a friend of the Kalsi family, Sunday was not a celebration of Narinder’s life.
"People are upset, people are very upset, we are sad. It is a bad name for the community. We want leaders to play a good role model, not like this. They have to control their anger, they have to do something. Especially in the Sikh temple, they go every day, they talk about peace, harmony, but this is just an outburst of something unusual," he said.