"Sikh Day 2007 Ottawa, Canada," a Commentary by Gursevak Singh Kasbia

April 18, 2007

Author: Gursevak Singh Kasbia

Source: Sikh News Network


On a cool autumn evening a bunch of friends get together at a local coffee shop. They just happen to be Sikh, and seem to be interested in a concept that really hasn’t taken off in their faith. They live in a relatively educated community, a small city of sorts, with large expectations. In their city contains many of the legislators and members of parliament from across their great Nation. Yet something is missing? Young turbaned men walk to work during the day, yet they have questions as to why nobody seems to ask them who they are. They receive curious and sometimes degrading looks on the street, and yet still very few people come to ask them about the cotton cloth they don upon their heads.

It was the fall of 2005 when a group of youngsters drove by me and my father and threw eggs at us. That was the first real time I had witnessed that, and it had visibly shaken me. The youths then circled their van around and yelled “Paki’s go back home to where you come from”. Now some would argue that this is an isolated incident, and that these youths don’t represent the rest of what society believes. Yet, in a recent 2006 study, 1 in 3 Canadians prefer not to live beside a person of color. When I read this statistic it struck really hit a chord. What if my neighbour doesn’t like who I am or where I come from? Luckily both of my neighbours are of Indian origin; however, there are many South Asians and minorities in Canada who must wonder the same thing?

Five turbaned youth in one coffee shop, customers staring and exchanging smiles with the group, wondering what they must be talking about? In enters some young females who order some tea, and approach the gentlemen. “Sat Sri Akal” they say with their hands folded in their traditional Punjabi salutation. They all begin to sip away at their tea, talking about how to educate Sikhs and non-Sikhs about their faith, culture and issues affecting the community. Many ideas come up, some of which sound good, and others which seem to just fade in thought provoking discourse. They decide that they need some type of project, and to meet at another date to take their brainstorming session and create an action plan.