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Canada’s 150th Birth Anniversary Celebrations Are Coming To A Close

By Balwant Sanghera

Canada’s 150th birth anniversary celebrations are coming to a close.Throughout the year, there have seen very elaborate ceremonies celebrating the greatness of Canada on this special anniversary. Here in Richmond, India Cultural centre of Canada Gurdwara Nanak Niwas, on our Highway to Heaven, had a big celebration on July 16. A number of prominent members of the South Asian community and the mainstream community took part in the festivities. In this very uncertain and unpredictable world environment, Canada shines like a beacon of hope and optimism. Often, we take things for granted and don’t appreciate as to how fortunate we are to call Canada our home.

Recently, on November 13, India Cultural Centre of Canada Gurdwara Nanak Niwas hosted 11 United  Nations (UN) Ambassadors. This was as part of their visit to attend Conference on Peacekeeping and Defence in Vancouver. Thesediplomats,led by Canadian Ambassador to the UN, Mr. Marc-Andre Blanchard had expressed a keen interest in meeting and talking to some members of the Highway to Heaven Association and the Gurdwara Management Committee.  All of them were appreciative of the Canadian policy of inclusion and celebration of diversity as one of this country’s major strengths and commended the work being done in Richmond and our Highway to Heaven in promoting inter-cultural and inter-religious harmony. After arriving back in New York, the Canadian Ambassador wrote a very kind letter to me and Mr. Asa Singh Johal. His message captures very well what this country is all about:

“Allow me to sincerely thank you for meeting with my group of United Nations Ambassadorson November 13, 2017. We felt extremely gratefulto have this chance to meet with you and the other community leaders of the Highway to Heaven Association.

“This visit was a wonderful way for us to highlight the incredible work being done in your community to promote diversity and inclusion.As we discussed during our meeting, Canada is often seen as an example to emulate in this regard the work being done on No. 5 Road is a very tangible example of the “Canadian Model”. I know that my colleague Ambassadors were deeply moved by the messages of tolerance and respect that were communicated and demonstrated throughout our interaction with you. I am confident that this visit will influence them and their respective governments as they continue to study the question of diversity and inclusion”

This feeling was reinforced again when I had the privilege of attending the Volunteer Appreciation function of SUCCESS: “2017 Champions of SUCCESS” on November 24. One of the SUCCESS volunteers, a recent immigrant to Canada,shared her own experience here and felt very proud to be a part of the Canadian family. Testimonials like these-by the UN Ambassadors and by a recent immigrant to Canada -go a long way in bringing home the feeling that we are very fortunate to live in one of the best, if not the best countries in the world.

BalwantSanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist. He is chairperson of the Highway to Heaven Association and a member of the Gurdwara Nanak Niwas Management Committee.

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