Rachna Singh, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives, has released the following statement to mark Sikh Heritage Month:
“More than 100 years ago, the first gurdwara in our province opened its doors in Vancouver. Now British Columbia is home to one of the largest Sikh populations outside of India, and our province is honoured to dedicate this month to acknowledge and celebrate the rich culture and diversity the Sikh community brings.
“April marks the occasion of Vaisakhi, a chance to celebrate the harvest and the start of a new agricultural year, the holiest celebration in Sikh faith. Sikhs also come together in April to mark the creation of the Khalsa of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, which imparts the values of equality, seva (selfless service) and social justice.
“We’ve seen many examples of seva in British Columbia, especially during the last two years. From vaccine clinics hosted at gurdwaras to blood donation drives and meals cooked for stranded travellers during the flooding last November, our province continues to be strengthened and enriched by the Sikh community.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us all in so many ways. Unfortunately, instead of celebrating the contributions that have shaped our history and our future, we have seen increasing incidents of hate and intolerance since the pandemic began. Now more than ever, we must stand up against this rising hate.
“Our government remains committed to stamping out racism and discrimination in B.C. That’s why, in the coming months, we’ll be introducing new anti-racism data legislation to help eliminate systemic racism by supporting secure race-based data collection. This will help pave the way to a more equitable, inclusive province, delivering better outcomes for those who rely on these programs and services, such as health care, education and policing.
“At a time when so many are divided, we can all learn from the Sikh notion of ‘sarbat da bhala’ and the wish that everyone should prosper.
“Due to the pandemic, some celebrations will continue to look different this year. While the Vaisakhi Parade in Surrey is not taking place, there are many other ways we can safely connect and celebrate this auspicious month, including events hosted by Sikh Heritage BC. I hope everyone takes part in these festivities in a safe way and learns more about a community that has played a significant role in shaping this province over the last century.
“I encourage all British Columbians to join us in honouring Sikh Heritage month by taking inspiration from the incredible and selfless contributions that Sikh Canadians have made – and continue to make – in our communities. By treating each other with respect and dignity, we can make B.C. a more just, inclusive and welcoming province for everyone.”