18th April, 2019
The Sikh community is known as the fearless and most-loyal community, one that believes in complete brotherhood – with just one mission “Live Khalsa”. IndiaTimes.Live Correspondent spoke to Ontario Khalsa Darbar President Gurpreet Singh Bal and discussed the issues staring the Sikh community in the eye as they prepare for the Nagar Kirtan Celebrations post Baisakhi.
How long have you been associated with Khalsa Darbar?
It is an honour for me that the Sikh community has reposed its faith in me by supporting me to be a part of the Singh Khalsa Darbar Committee four times since 1985. Also, I am grateful to the community support for having me as the president of the society for the second consecutive term since 2015.
What have been your key areas of focus for the Sikh Community?
The Sikh community has passed through a very dark phase in Canada. From 2006 to 2015, the Khalsa Darbar society was completely defunct. The infighting between two groups and the membership issue that rose to the level of legality, caused a huge damage to the society and Dixie gurudwara.
When I took over as the president of the Khalsa Darbar Committee for the first time in 2015, I took an oath to restore the lost glory of Dixie gurudwara. I took upon myself the task of ensuring that the gurudwara became a place of brotherhood and community welfare.
During my first term, the focus was to take care of long-drawn legal battles and then ensuring basic amenities like carpeting, AC, sound, seating, Langar hall, parks, plantations. The kitchen of Dixie gurudwara was given an overhaul to bring it up as the best community gathering and langar.
So, on the whole the first term was well spent on ending all the legal hassles and getting Dixie gurudwara back to 100% operations.
What are the projects that hold the attention of the Sikh community?
In times to come, the major task at the hand of the society will be to give the gurudwara a facelift and completion of all the pending projects. The Phull Visarjan Project at the creek running past the gurudwara is a very important project; the Sachkhand Room; installation of elevators at the gurudwara to link all floors and quality establishment of the Khalsa School where our future generations can learn about the teaching of our Gurus from learned and well-known academicians.
How do you define the struggle of the Sikh community in Canada?
Sikhs came to Canada in 1897 and it was in 1902 that the first gurdwara was built in Vancouver, known as Khalsa Dewan. The Sikh community known for its hard-working nature and happy and loving outlook was growing well in Canada till 1984 happened. It was in 1984 that the fate of Sikhs changed globally and thereafter, we Sikhs have been struggling to get our lost respect.
Our Committee, which is also a part of the World Sikh Organization, has done its part in this fight as we have ben representing Sikhs at various levels to get the “blacklist” status removed. The labelling of “Sikh community as being dangerous for Canada” is a black mark on us and I feel it will take a lot from us and the future generations to take away this negative portrayal of our community. It was a shame that despite having Sikh community members in high political positions, none of them stood up to represent the community. It was very kind of Premier Justin Trudeau and the Liberals government to consider our request and give our community the standing and respect it deserves. The way Mr Trudeau handled the entire issue of labelling Sikhs dangerous for Canada is commendable and in fact, his father had also been a fond supporter of the Sikh community. I feel that getting support from the political arena is commendable and shows the goodwill and success of the community. That said, we we still have a long way to go to give our coming generations the position and place we deserve on the Canadian soil.
How are the preparations going on for the forthcoming Nagar Kirtans?
The preparations for the Nagar Kirtans in Downtown on 28 April and later in Malton are very much in place and as always, it will mark a day of brotherhood, happiness and celebration of the Khalsa in the very spirit and teaching of the Gurus.
As we walk into another glorious year of celebrating Sikhism, I urge the Sikh community to come together in every which way possible and join hands to give our coming generations the place Sikhism deserves at the global level.