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Spinning Wheel Honours Hew McLeod

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The Seventh Annual Spinning Wheel Film Festival was launched on Friday night (Sep 25) with Ardaas and the singing of Canada‘s National Anthem, ‘O Canada‘, followed by a special dedication of the event.

This year's festival was dedicated to the memory of W. Hew McLeod, who passed away after a lengthy illness earlier this year on July 20 in Dunedin, New Zealand.

"We dedicate the Seventh Annual Spinning Wheel Film Festival - 2009 - Toronto - Canada - to the fond and respected memory of a dear friend of the Sikh Community: W. Hew McLeod (1932 - 2009), Scholar, Historian, Author, Teacher, Advocate, Friend' - said the proclamation.

Dr. McLeod's wife, Margaret, and their daughter, Ruth Fleury - both of whom had flown in from New Zealand specially for the occasion - were present for the dedication, and were received with standing ovations.

Both addressed a full theatre at The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto and shared anecdotes about Hew's long and loving relationship with Sikhs and Sikhi.

Other friends, associates and former students of Hew McLeod were in the audience, including Drs. Joe and Cathy O'Connell of the University of Toronto, Dr. I.J. Singh from New York, Dr. and Mrs. Lou Fenech from Iowa, U.S.A, and Dr. Doris Jakobsh and her husband from the University of Waterloo.

On Saturday, a film - "Hew McLeod: A Kiwi Sikh Historian" - was screened as part of this year's film roster. A 40 minute documentary produced by Sikh-Kiwi filmmaker, Jasmine Kaur Pujji, it tells the unlikely story of the New Zealander who spent a lifetime studying the history and religion of the Sikhs.

The softly spoken emeritus professor, who inflamed controversy and blazed a trail for other scholars to follow over four decades, speaks on camera for the first time about his life and work.

Richly illustrated with archive footage, photographs and the religious art of the Sikhs, the documentary includes interviews with McLeod, his family, academics and New Zealand Sikhs. As well as introducing his work on Sikhism, the film sheds light on the historian's groundbreaking research into Punjabi immigration to New Zealand, preserving the early history of this sizeable group for generations to come.

The film shot earlier this year, shortly before his death, provides a rare glimpse of the life of a world renowned scholar.

Jasmine, who had flown in From Paris, France, for the weekend, answered questions about the making of the film and the subject, during a Q & A after the screening.


September 27, 2009

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