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A Short History of Canada's Ethnic Media


The Sikh Times, Toronto, Oct. 29, 2005

Photo: Tara Singh Hayer, wearing his Order of British Columbia medal

The Third Element is a wonderfully produced one-hour exploration of the critical role media has played in sustaining Canada's ethnic communities over the decades.

The program, presented by OMNI Television, Canada's first free over-the-air multilingual/multicultural television broadcaster, is scheduled to premiere on Saturday, October 29 at 9 p.m. on OMNI.1 with an encore on Sunday at 8 p.m.

As one interlocutor notes, most ethnic publishers are in it not to make a buck but to realize their passion to serve. Most printed ethnic media is funded by advertizing and distributed free in high traffic areas. However, lately, Internet media has been taking a big bite out of the market traditionally enjoyed by print media.

Tara Singh Hayer, founding publisher of the Indo-Canadian Times, a Punjabi weekly launched in 1978, is featured prominently.

Hayer was paralyzed from the waist down in a failed 1988 assassination attempt by Harkirat Singh Bagga. However, ten years later, a second attempt ended his wheelchair-bound life on November 18, 1998, just three days after his 62nd birthday and within four months of his excommunication at the hands of then-jathedar of the Akal Takht, Ranjit Singh.

In 2000, Hayer became the first ethnic minority journalist to be inducted into the Canadian News Hall of Fame.

Although Tara Singh Hayer was a supporter of Sikh self-determination, he spoke out against the sort of violence that brought down Air India Flight 182, killing all 329 people on board.

Also featured are Hayer's daughter, Rupinder Hayer Bains, who in 2001 launched Apna Roots, an English language pan-ethnic biweekly, Gurnam Singh Sanghera and a few other unidentified Sikhs, the Burma Herald, published by a former political prisoner from Burma, and Anokhi Vibe, a glamorous English language fashion and lifestyle magazine published by Raj Girn.