The Revival: Sikh Heritage Month BC By Indervir Kaur

In the month of April, the Sikh community will gather to celebrate Vaisakhi - formation of the Khalsa panth. During this time, Sikhs will be able to fully embrace their culture and heritage. By collaborating to provide space and opportunity to bring together all members of the Sikh diaspora, the Sikh Students’ Associations (SSA) of the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Simon Fraser University (SFU) aim to bridge the gap between modernity and heritage by hosting events throughout the month of April in honour of Sikh Heritage Month (SHM).

Sikh Heritage Month acknowledges the contributions and aspirations of Sikh Canadians while creating a greater understanding for the rich, unique, and distinctive heritage of Sikhi. SHM aims to highlight contemporary talent in the Sikh community, creating a united artistic front for Sikhs. The whole community comes together to express their culture through various mediums, including but not limited to, art exhibitions, workshops, and spoken word performances.

After last year’s sold-out show, SSA brings back another Art Exhibition. The Art Exhibition will be held over the course of two nights, acting as an opening event for SHM. The purpose for the exhibition is to provide the local Sikh artists a platform to explore and reflect on their identities as well as the revival of Sikh heritage. The art work will be put on display for auction in efforts to support and recognize the talents within our community.

Towards the end of April, The Finale Gala aims to recognize the contributions and the month’s accomplishments while highlighting Sikh heritage. This formal dinner intends to promote the federal SHM bill and any future work SSA wishes to contribute in respects to SHM. The evening will consist of various segments, from speeches by respected members of the community to performances showcasing the rich heritage. The Finale Gala intends to support the efforts of the members of the Sikh community who are working to get the accomplishments recognized at the federal level.

A Shukrana Keertan will be held as a closing event to thank Guru Sahib for the success and accomplishments they have blessed us with. The keertan will also allow SHM an opportunity to celebrate the success through the form of sangat, good company that remembers Guru Sahib together.

The event welcomes those who reside in the Lower Mainland to come together to foster community and Ekta, oneness. With Guru Sahib’s kirpa, SHM strives to bring the entire community together to conclude SHM.

SHM allows the community to collaborate to preserve Sikh Heritage. Through partnered events, organizations and institutions work alongside SHM to provide space and resources to explore Sikhi. 

This year, SHM has partnered with: Sikh Research Institution (SIKHRI), World Sikh Organization (WSO), Guru Nanak Academy (GNA), Akaal Khalsa, Muskaan Foundation Canada, The Nameless Collective Podcast and Gobind Sarvar. The partnered events allow the community to explore not only the history and heritage but also the accomplishments of those who have reached professional careers while keeping intact their Sikh values and principles.

The Sikh-Canadian community has a long and proud history since the first Sikh immigrants set foot on Canadian soil. From facing the hardships of being first-generation immigrants to making significant contributions to the growth and prosperity of the country, Canadian-Sikhs have created a dignified identity in Canada. Despite these sacrifices and contributions, Sikh-Canadian history is not often mentioned. It is therefore at a risk of being lost or forgotten. SHM provides the community as a whole with an opportunity to recognize all those who have worked tirelessly to contribute to Canada.

SHM displays and dives into the rich and deep Sikh culture and bridges the gap between assimilation and culture. In order to resist the assimilation and misrepresentation of Sikhs in mainstream media, SHM will bring together the community to help preserve and celebrate Sikh heritage. SHM also showcases the Sikh culture to the broader community in Canada with the intention of breaking stigma and sharing culture.

Along with the community, SHM will celebrate and educate future generations about Sikh culture and contributions by Sikh-Canadians. By highlighting the important and crucial roles that Sikhs have played and continue to play in the country’s development, SHM will foster pride within the Sikh community. It is our hope that Bill C-376, officially recognizes SHM throughout Canada to ensure that Sikh culture continues to thrive in Canadian culture.

We hope to see the wider community join us to celebrate the accomplishments and build a relation through the sharing of recognition and appreciation of Sikh heritage.

                                                                                      – Indervir Kaur

About the author

Indervir Kaur is a student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University studying English. She aims to explore her passion for Sikhi through writing. Growing up, not seeing Sikh representation in literature has encouraged her to be involved in her community in efforts to preserve and represent her identity.

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