Sikh awareness week

By Salima Stanley-Bhanji

The City of Calgary has officially declared an annual Sikh Awareness Week, which is a city-wide event to be held for the first time, Aug, 29 to Sept., 5.

The proclamation was signed by Mayor Dave Bronconnier and made by Alderman John Schmal on Fri., May 14 at a dinner in celebration of the quad-centennial of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book and teacher. Approximately 400 people attended the event, including Alberta Premier Ralph Klein.

“Sikh Awareness Week started at the university, so we wanted to take that out of campus and put it city-wide, and this was the year to do it,” said Manpreet Sidhu, Executive Member of the Sikh youth group Dashmesh Mission.

“Considering there are 30,000 Sikhs in Calgary, I think it is a great opportunity for us to showcase what our faith is about, to overcome stereotypes and foster understanding,” said Sidhu.

Alderman Ric McIver was instrumental in the city’s adoption of Sikh Awareness Week, echoes Sidhu’s sentiments.

“The biggest problem when people don’t get along is that they don’t know enough about each other,” said Alderman McIver. “The more you know about someone who looks different from you, the more you get along with them, and that’s what makes our city whole.”

Sidhu is already heavily involved in the organization of many Sikh Awareness Week activities.

“The week will include events about spirituality, meditation and yoga, to arts and culture, to food and festivities,” described Sidhu.

Sikh Awareness Week will culminate with a fundraising banquet to benefit the Alberta Children’s Hospital.

“The proclamation is really an indication that the city welcomes people,” said Alderman McIver. “If they want to be here then we want them to be here.”