INTERFAITH HARMONY: Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s 550th Celebrations Is A Great Occasion For All Faiths To Come Together!

Sikhs Planting 1 Million Trees Globally To Celebrate The Birth Anniversary Of Sikhism’s Founder!

By Ken Herar

Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism.  His message of oneness, equality and justice for all came at a time in when these principles were needed in South East Asia. He challenged social injustices and gender inequality and a messenger of truthful living.

In celebration of this occasion and in keeping with his teachings of service to humanity Sikhs are planting one million trees globally, which is absolutely impressive. WoMen Rise, a community group in Abbotsford, organized the planting of 110 trees, at Townhill Park in Abbotsford, with another 440 being planted in 2020. This event was made possible with support from the City of Abbotsford and was attended by all faiths groups. The ceremony was initiated by members of the Metis Nation who blessed the event.

Keynote speaker retired RCMP Insp Baltej Dhillon said, “The 300 plus community members from all faiths, races and gender  planted the 110 trees. Some planting their tree in memory of a loved ones , and others simply as an act of healing mother earth. But, all celebrated the tenets instilled by Guru Nanak of serving others, living a truthful life and treating all with compassion and kindness. This event was a magnificent testament of community solidarity and celebration.

And just as a tree does not discriminate on who enjoys its shade, this effort was also a reminder to everyone of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s teachings to cultivate our best self, and to see and be with all without hate or prejudice. “

Something can be learned from the controversy surrounding Sportsnet commentator Don Cherry. When Cherry was coach of the Boston Bruins they were always my favourite team and it was definitely a special time with such a colourful personality behind the bench. There was never a dull moment specially when the Habs and Bruins met up.  I understand where Cherry is coming from, but his choice of words is where the puck should of stopped.  Which, immigrant group he was referring too when he said, “you people”  we may never know, but coming from a pioneer Sikh family like many other families we were taught that wearing a poppy was something special to honour the fallen who sacrificed their lives for our freedoms. The sad reality is we have stopped teaching about our history some of the key partnerships in past conflicts, which has been unfortunately forgotten through generations.  We, have a lot more in common than you thing, especially with the Sikh regiment as Canadians.   One important point, we should not forget is it’s not just immigrant groups that may not wear poppies on Remembrance Day, it also includes people who are born and raised here touching all ethnic backgrounds.

Steve Purewal, a South Asian historian provides some reflection in his book on how Sikhs fought in many past wars called,  Duty, Honour & Izzat The subsequent outbreak of the Great War in August 1914. And the first of the colonial troops to be deployed on the Western Front in WW1, the Sikhs played a critical role in the opening months of the war in defeating Germany’s push to win the war early. Their story has gone untold despite the fact they fought side by side with Canadians under one flag and Crown on the hallowed battlefields of Flanders.

As Drew Galloway, said: “Duty, Honour, & Izzat, combines illustrations by Christopher Rawlins along with vivid historical pictures to shed light on the heroic, yet undervalued contributions made by the people of India in various wars involving the British Commonwealth. Indian people make up a significant portion of the Canadian population, and as such, the book should be treated not only as Indian military history, but also Canadian history. While it is in fact woven into the very law of Canada via the

“Canadian Multiculturalism Act” which states that it is “An act for the preservation and enhancement of multiculturalism in Canada”, the historical contributions and experiences of various minority groups in Canada has and continues to be either minimized, or completely ignored.

“Books such this, which explore Canadian history through a multicultural lens, should be required reading in Canadian high school history and social studies classes. The cultural mosaic that is Canadian society, as a whole, can only serve to benefit from learning the history and culture of all the people and groups which make it a nation. We should celebrate both our differences and our similarities. That is what makes Canada such a great place to live, and books such as Purewal’s serve to remind us of our unique history and our shared history.”

Ken Herar is a Fraser-Valley based writer and activist. He is also an elected Councillor with City of Mission.

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