Canada Observes April as Sikh Heritage Month
The month of April recognizes and emphasizes the important contributions that the Sikh community has made — and will continue to make — to Canada’s social, economic, political, and cultural heritage. | Image courtesy: browngirlmagazine.com
Throughout Canada, each and every April is observed as Sikh Heritage Month. Canada also observes January as Tamil Heritage Month.
Canada is known for being enthusiastic, diverse, and tolerant. It’s the result of Canadians from all walks of life, races, and cultures, ensuring the country is a place where all citizens can be proud of. One of the reasons Canada celebrates Italian, Tamil, Black, Jewish, and Asian heritage months. It’s a way to remember and respect our heritage. Canadians have a common theme: uniting our values, principles, and ideals.
April is a time to celebrate the contributions the Sikh community has made – and will continue to make – to Canada’s social, economic, political, and cultural heritage.
Here is statement by Minister Hussen (Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, Canada) on Sikh Heritage Month:
Today, Canadians across the country mark the beginning of Sikh Heritage Month.
Today, Canadians across the country mark the beginning of Sikh Heritage Month. This is a great time for us to recognize the many past and current contributions of the Sikh community in making Canada the country that it is today.
Since the arrival of the first Sikh immigrants in the late 19th century, the Sikh community has helped make Canada a stronger country through its accomplishments in many different parts of our society.
Whether it’s politics, sciences, arts, business, or sports, the Sikh community has helped shape Canada’s cultural fabric. Our country is the proud home of more than 500,000 members of the Sikh community, making Canada home of one of the largest Sikh diasporas in the world.
The values of equality, selflessness, openness and compassion are the core principles of Sikhism, and these values will be highlighted during Vaisakhi later this month.
As Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, I invite people across the country to celebrate the accomplishments of our fellow Sikh citizens both in April and throughout the year.
Have a great Sikh Heritage Month!
Significance of Sikh Heritage Month
April is a big month for the Sikh community. Sikh Canadians celebrate Vaisakhi/Baisakhi on April 14th, which marks the creation of the Khalsa and the Sikh articles of faith. This holiday is also celebrated by people of the Hindu faith.
While the month of April is meaningful for the Sikh community around the world.
Whereas the Sikh population in Canada is in excess of 500,000 people, making it the second-largest Sikh population in the world;
Whereas the Parliament of Canada recognizes the significant contributions that Sikh Canadians have made to Canada’s social, economic, political and cultural fabric, as well as the richness of the Punjabi language and culture and the Gurmukhi script
History of Sikh Heritage Month
Ontario first recognized Sikh Heritage Month in 2013, and Alberta has recognized it for five years. On Nov. 7, 2018, the federal parliament voted to celebrate Sikh Heritage Month every April. Likewise, it’s important to acknowledge that Sikhs’ journey in Canada wasn’t always smooth.
Followers of this faith can face intolerance and prejudice. These challenges effectively have made Sikhs second-class citizens at times, due to unfair labour laws. Many Canadians are aware of the terrible Komagata Maru incident in 1914, in which a chartered ship of Sikhs arrived in Vancouver in search of a new life. But a former practice excluded immigrants from India entering Canada and the arrivals were refused entry because of these discriminatory laws.
The incident was a factor in overturning such practices, so that Sikhs became seen as equal members of Canadian society. By 1947, Sikhs were able to vote in federal elections. They support the right to vote and believe that citizen participation is not only a right, but also an important part of citizenship.
In 1908, the Sikh community established Canada’s first Sikh temple in Vancouver. This has become a centre of faith, residence, advocacy and assembly, and community leaders are committed to finding ways to positively impact the entire Canadian community.