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SikhRI SikhRI Hosts Educational Forums To Commemorating 100 Years Of Sikh Pioneers In Abbotsford


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
ABBOTSFORD – Sikh Research Institute (SikhRI) headed to Abbotsford, British Columbia (BC), to participate in the first series of events as part of a year-long celebration of the Gur Sikh Temple, the oldest standing gurduara in Canada. On the way north, there was also a stop in the Pacific Northwest, in Redmond, WA.

On 20 January, about 50 Sikhs from Redmond and surrounding areas came together for a talk by Harinder Singh on “Rekindling the Sikh Spirit.” The presentation explores the collective Sikh spirit in a modern age and the ways that Guru-initiated processes can be revitalized to strengthen the Sikh spirit.

Karandeep Singh Anand said that he found the presentation, “very articulate and very tactful while not compromising on the message or mincing words.” Sarabjit Singh said that the talk was an inspiration and that he appreciated the way the topic was covered from an open and thought-provoking perspective. “Harinder Singh brings very novel ideas, anecdotes, and facts to the audience in a very straightforward and engaging fashion,” he said. “You never get the feeling it is a repeat or rehash of what you keep hearing from other Sikhi speakers in Gurdwaras or outside.”

On the 22nd, with the support of Khalsa Diwan Society Gurdwara, Kalgidhar Gurdwara, and Banda Singh Bahadur Gurdwara as well as the Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies, Sikh Research Institute presented two sessions on “Celebrating the Sikh Heritage” and “Reviving the Gurduara” at the University of the Fraser Valley. The sessions were part of a year-long series of celebratory and educative events dedicated to the centennial of the Gur Sikh Temple. The gurduara was, which took three years to complete, was built with logs donated by the local saw mill on Mill Lake, where many of the early Sikh pioneers in western Canada were employed. The employees cleaned the lumber and carried it on their backs to the one-acre lot they had purchased as the site for the gurduara. In this way, the structure was built for the labors and energy of the everyday Sikh, to be a place which welcomed all Sikhs looking for a place to worship and to find community.

Both lectures of the series were designed to lead participants in reflecting on the unique spirit that built the foundation of the BC-Sikh community more than a century ago, as well as working to inspire today’s community to tap into this timeless spirit once again. “Reviving the Gurduara” placed emphasis on Sikh’s successful immigration to North America and explored the past perception of the Gurduara as a place of learning and a venue for community activism, while pointing out that this focus has been lost of late in the same institutions.

Many participants said that they left the lectures with a greater appreciation for the legacy today’s B.C. Sikhs have inherited. Aman Ghuman said that he found the presentation very informative and took away, “great insight into the functions of a Gurduara.”

“As we continue to commemorate diasporic Sikh communities throughout commonwealth nations, let’s celebrate the unparalleled spirit of our forefathers and foremothers who dared to venture and lead. We must revive the gurduara as the community institution that served the local religious, social and political needs during very trying times 100 years ago,” said Harinder Singh, of the impetus for his latest talks in BC. He urged Sikh communities in Canada and everywhere, to confront the challenges of racism and sexism–as these remain the community’s most significant internal threats–and to never stop attending to the struggle of civil rights for all.




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