Sikh Community’s One Billion Rising Initiative Serves 22 Shelters Across Canada

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OTTAWA – The World SikhOrganization of Canada joined with Sikhcommunities across Canada on February14 to take part in the One Billion Risingmovement by providing care packages,treats and baked goods to over 800women in 22 women’s shelters inVancouver, Calgary, Toronto andMontreal. Each package was accompaniedby Valentine’s cards prepared bySikh children and students from localKhalsa schools and gurdwaras.One Billion Rising began as a call toaction based on the staggering statisticthat 1 in 3 women on the planet will bebeaten or raped during her lifetime. Withthe world population at 7 billion, thisadds up to more than one billion womenand girls. Last year, WSO and GuruNanak’s Free Kitchen (GNFK) launchedthe event in Vancouver and in responseto the tremendous support provided bythe community, grew the event this yearto include Calgary, Toronto andMontreal. In Vancouver, local Gurdwarasparticipated in the initiative and served asdrop-off locations. The response fromthe shelters which were served was overwhelming.Many residents noted howdifficult Valentine ’s Day can be whenhaving recently escaped an abusive relationship.One shelter’s women decidedto make a thank you card for the Sikhcommunity.WSO BC Vice-President Jasbir Kaursaid, “the response to the event was onceagain wonderful. We received a greatdeal of support from local radio such asRed FM, Radio India and Sher-e-Punjab.I’d particularly like to recognize KiranAulakh of Shere-e-Punjab radio who,with her support, went above and beyondthe call of duty in making the BC event asuccess.” GNFK Council Member andvolunteer Roveen Kandola said, “GNFKis dedicated to enriching people’s livesthrough regular, sustained, and meaningfulvolunteer service. Our work is basedon the basic humanitarian principles ofsharing, inclusiveness, community, andpublic service. We are thankful to WSOfor providing this opportunity to us.”In Calgary, WSO received generous supportand assistance from the DashmeshCulture Centre and were able todeliver 50 care packages to theYCWA which operates several sheltersacross Calgary. Sehajvir Singh,vice-president of the DashmeshCulture Centre and an executivemember of the WSO said, “It’simportant as Sikhs for us to reachout to those in need and to raiseawareness about ending violenceagainst women. But on a personallevel it felt amazing to be able tohelp the shelters. We were trulyoverwhelmed at how much such a simplegesture on our part was appreciated.”Similarly in Toronto, cupcakes andValentine’s cards were delivered towomen’s shelters in Peel. Local universitystudents helped prepare and deliverthe packages. WSO’s Ontario Vice-President Prabhmeet Singh said, “Theworkers and volunteers at the Ernestine’sWomen’s Shelter were very grateful to seethe amount of care and effort put intocreating the cards and cupcakes for theresidents. We were told that Valentine’sDay can often be a lonely and somberday at the shelter and so the Sikh community’sgesture was particularly timelyand welcome.”In Montreal, local Sikh children helpedmake Valentines cards at the GurdwaraSahib Greater Montreal (DDO). Thechildren of different ages had a discussionabout abuse and bullying and theimportance of helping others in need.The cards and baked treats were deliveredto two local women’s shelters.Eight-year-old Sonia Kaur said she wantedthe residents of the shelters to havebeautiful and perfect cards and spentover an hour on each card she decorated.

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