Surrey Vaisakhi parade crowd in Newton in April 2018. (File photo: Crystal Scuor)

Surrey Vaisakhi parade crowd in Newton in April 2018. (File photo: Crystal Scuor)

Surrey could see a ‘modified version, perhaps’ of the annual Vaisakhi parade this year

‘The way it was in the past, it cannot happen this year because that just puts too many people at risk,’ Dr. Bonnie Henry says

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says a “modified version, perhaps” of Surrey’s annual Vaisakhi parade might be permitted to go ahead this year.

“The short answer is it’s a bit too early right now,” she told the Now-Leader on Thursday. “I have been in discussions with faith leaders and community leaders in this last week and this last couple of weeks about how we have a number of important celebrations coming up, and how can we, given where we are right now in this situation we have with this pandemic, how can we have faith remembrances or celebrations of these important events.

READ ALSO UPDATE: B.C. relaxes outdoor gathering rules, allows kids to have playdates

“So the parade, probably not or maybe in a very limited way outside but I know community leaders are looking at that,” she said. “But how can we have celebrations, and we see some great examples of that with Chinese New Years, with some of the celebrations that we’ve had safely in the last few months, and I expect that will be the same for Vaisakhi as well.”

Surrey’s South Asian community has held an annual Vaisakhi parade, which commemorates the founding of the Sikh religion in 1699, since 1998 and parades have been held in Vancouver since 1979.

Surrey’s Vaisakhi parade is considered to be the largest in North America and one of the biggest outside India, drawing up to 500,000 people to 128th Street in Newton among other streets. It’s usually held at the end of April. Last year, Vaisakhi was held virtually during the early days of the pandemic.

READ ALSO: Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair postponed until later in 2021

READ ALSO VAISAKHI IN SURREY: Best wishes from Horgan and others as celebrations are curtailed

READ ALSO: Surrey Vaisakhi Parade cancelled amid COVID-19 outbreak

Given the magnitude of the event, does Henry see the parade being able to go ahead, as it has in years past, even next year?

“For this year, that’s a no. For next year, we’re going to be in a different world, so who knows? The way it was in the past, it cannot happen this year because that just puts too many people at risk.”

Laura Ballance, spokeswoman for the organizers of the parade, the executive of the Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar, says they “are reviewing their options as to moving forward and we anticipate having a formal statement early next week.”

Moninder Singh, spokesman for the B.C. Gurdwaras Council, said Thursday organizers are “looking into a cancellation announcement soon” for a large-gathering event. “It is kind of obvious that it is going to have to be cancelled, there’s no way we’re going to be able to do it,” he said. “Last year we have done programs around like a virtual Vaisakhi, it was being called. It’ll probably be very similar to that, like on-line type events.

Singh noted there are more pandemic-related restrictions now than there were this same time last year. “We had some smaller events of gathering of under 50 people in April last year that we were still able to hold under those restrictions but now we can’t even do that.”

He said they have a cancellation notice “on hold” but are “still giving it a lot of thought.

“We’re trying to look at what ‘modified’ would look like, with social distancing requirements, masking and everything like that,” Singh said. “If we make a call-out, just to be flat out honest, that this thing is going ahead, we can’t control it. In all honesty. I think we would be doing a disservice to the public health at this point. Once we make the call, how are we supposed to say ‘OK, you 500 can come, and you can’t.”

“The sheer amount of time and energy it’s going to take to try to keep people six feet apart,” he said, “it’s just not working, in our minds.”

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram  and follow Tom on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey city Councillor Brenda Locke. (File photo)
Surrey councillor trying to get policing referendum on the table, again

‘I’m sending it back for clarification,’ mayor decides

A simulation lab at Surrey Memorial Hospital has been helping healthcare professionals train during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted photo)
Surrey Memorial Hospital’s simulation lab trains professionals during COVID-19 pandemic

Surrey Hospitals Foundation contributing $100K toward new technologies

Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks about the province’s COVID-19 vaccine plans during a news conference at the legislature in Victoria. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Dr. Bonnie Henry says Surrey immunization targeted at neighbourhoods most at risk

‘What we’ve been looking at is the case rates by neighbourhood,’ provincial health officer says

A horse and driver cruise around the track at Fraser Downs in Cloverdale Sept. 14, 2020 amid smoke from U.S. forest fires. Harness Racing B.C. announced it’s halting the spring season two weeks early because of a lack of money and says racing won’t continue in September without and influx of cash. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Harness racing suspended at Fraser Downs

Spring season ends early, 135 workers out of jobs

Delta police are asking for the public’s help in locating 80-year-old Bob Stout, who police believe went missing from his Tsawwassen home between 1 and 8:30 a.m. on Friday, April 16. (Delta Police Department/submitted photos)
UPDATE: Missing senior found safe

Police think Bob Stout, 80, went missing from his Tsawwassen home between 1 to 8:30 a.m. April 16

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after being recorded making comments to a DTES harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Sarah Blyth/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Police officer convicted of uttering threats under B.C. watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to civilian Sarah Blyth

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Since April 4, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Vancouver the largest source of domestic flights with COVID-19 cases: data

This month alone, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived

John Furlong, Own The Podium board chairman and former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, addresses a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 25, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
John Furlong presents 2030 Winter Games vision to Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver and Whistler would remain among host sites because of 2010 sport venues still operational

Photo by Metro Creative Connection
New campgrounds coming to B.C. parks as part of $83M provincial boost

This season alone, 185 campsites are being added to provincial parks, says Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Most Read