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Canada Sikh Community Addresses Civil & Human Rights Issues (Global Sikh Conference)

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by spnadmin, Dec 25, 2010.

  1. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Jun 17, 2004
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    Sikh community addresses civil & human rights issues at the global conference in Canada

    SURREY (BC), Canada: Sikh leaders, community members and prominent civil and human rights advocates from around the world gathered in Surrey to address issues that most affect Sikhs worldwide at the 3rd Global Sikh Civil Rights Conference from December 17-19, 2010 in Surrey, Canada.

    The theme for this year’s conference was Protect Our Identity, building upon the work of our Protect Our Identity (POI) Campaign launched earlier this year which has been gaining momentum within the global Sikh community. UNITED SIKHS and Guru Nanak Sikh Gurudwara-Surrey Delta hosted the Conference with the support of the Sikh Sangat of Canada.

    Over the three days, the conference provided an avenue for advocates and community members from all over the world to discuss policies that challenge the basic freedoms of the Sikh community worldwide.

    Kiranjot Kaur addresses Global Sikh conference in Canada:

    "Over the years, the conference has set the agenda for the community and the organization in terms of focus areas that we need to concentrate our resources on," says Jaspreet Singh, Legal Director and former Staff Attorney. "Also, the conference has grown to include issues affecting not only our community, but those that violate civil liberties of citizens across the world. It has become a time of reflection and action for all of us as global stakeholders in the social justice arena."

    Guru Nanak Sikh Gurudwara President Bikramjit Singh says, "The Conference was a learning experience for the community. The panelists introduced issues surrounding the introduction of Bill C-42 and its potential adverse implications within the Canadian Sikh community. Also, different conference panels brought to light the right to turban cases in France, and the problem of religious profiling by TSA in the United States. These very important civil and human rights issues need to be brought to the public’s attention –and the Conference was successful in doing exactly that. It is important for people to learn about their rights, and know when those rights are threatened. Overall, the Conference was a success, and it provided a great opportunity for our community, educators, experts, advocates and politicians to come together to discuss and learn about pressing issues."

    Ilana Ofgang, UNITED SIKHS Legal Fellow emphasizes the importance of bringing the community together on a common platform. "Part of the purpose of the conference is to provide a forum for stakeholders; be it Sikh community members or other concerned citizens to participate in a meaningful conversation regarding civil & human rights issues that are of particular concern to the Sikh community and addressing these issues from a global perspective."

    Speakers who expressed their views on the rights of the Sikh community framed in the civil and human rights context around the world included: Mayor Dianne Watts of Surrey, MP Sukh Dhaliwal; Dan Mach, Director of the Religious Freedom and Belief Project at the American Civil Liberties Union; Karen Narasaki, President of the Asian American Justice Center; Sukhsimranjit Singh, Legal Professor of Dispute Resolution; Palbinder Kaur Shergill, human rights lawyer and WSO counsel; Becky Monroe, Acting Director of the U.S. Dept of Justice Community Relations Service (DOJ/ CRS); Jessi Kaur, Author & Board Member of Kaur Foundation and co-founder of the International Institute of Gurmat Studies (IIGS); Kiranjot Kaur, Senior Shironmani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee Member; and Jarnail Singh, journalist and activist.

    UNITED SIKHS highlighted artistic representations of Sikh issues, and featured films related to Sikh issues and Sikhism. The films displayed included "Holy Kitchens," which explores the Sikh practice of langar, "Harvest of Grief" about the Punjab farmer suicides, and "Udaari," about the youth Sikh experience in the UK. UNITED SIKHS was additionally very pleased to feature several prints from artist Kanwar Singh Dhillon "Art of Punjab" collection in a silent auction.

    The conference engaged the youth community by hosting panels/events exploring the challenges that young Sikhs face today. Youth topics included bullying prevention, protecting the Sikh identity from a youth perspective, and Sikhs breaking barriers in non-traditional fields. In the evening, a concert featuring prominent Sikh hip-hop artists performed at the annual concert Sangarsh, "Rapping for Human Rights" -including socially conscious songs covering issues from female foeticide/infanticide to discrimination and the lack of accountability for 1984.

    In closing, Kuldip Singh, President of UNITED SIKHS, emphasized the importance of the community getting together to find innovative ways to tackle issues that affect their free practice of religion. "Sikhs across the world need to network, use education as a tool to increase awareness and use available resources in the best possible manner to address policies that hinder freedoms of Sikhs."


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