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HomeNewsGrande Prairie Sikh community helping Rotary House during Heritage Month

Grande Prairie Sikh community helping Rotary House during Heritage Month

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The Grande Prairie Sikh Society has turned its attention to helping those in need during the month it celebrates the creation of its religion. The annual Sikh Heritage Month events celebrated across Canada won’t happen this year due to Alberta’s guidelines to limit social gatherings.

Executive Committee President of the Gursikh Missionary Society Satbir Baidwan says, instead, the Sikh Temple is supporting the Khwahish Foundation of GP in providing free food for Rotary House.

“Several months ago they approached us. We’re sponsoring the kitchen because they need a place to prepare the food. Our community members are actively involved in that as well.”

Over the past month, 1,182 meals have been provided to residents, including some donated by local restaurants. The Khwahish Foundation started serving meals through their community kitchen three months ago with a total of 2,800 meals delivered.

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Baidwan says working with the Khwahish Foundation can help some members cope by helping out the community in some way.
He adds a lot of residents have reached out with sadness over the closure of the temple, due to COVID-19 measures around the size of gatherings.

“15 people is a really small number. How do you monitor that? What if there are 11 people and six walk in. What are you going to do? Are you going to say the ones who came in early have to leave? Uou can’t say that; it’s a religious place. It’s everybody’s place.”

He says anyone who wants to visit the temple can contact the committee members to arrange a visitation time. Baidwan says the closure is having a huge impact on a very close Sikh community in Grande Prairie, including himself.

“It has a social aspect as well. You get to see all people of your community and everybody is missing. For myself, it’s been four weeks. I don’t remember that ever happening in my life where I haven’t visited the temple in four weeks.”

This month symbolizes when the Sikh religion was created on April 13, 1699. Every year Canadians hold a Khalsa Day parade to celebrate the origin of the religion. The local Sikh Society had to cancel all the events they had to celebrate their religion due to COVID-19 measures implemented by the province.

Minister of Culture Leela Sharon Aheer sent out a statement early this month on why it’s important to celebrate the Sikh community in Alberta.

“Today, the community is thriving. Alberta has the third-largest Sikh population in Canada, which continues to help our province flourish. The Sikh community’s values of family, philanthropy and service are an example for all Albertans to follow.”

During a time of social distancing, Aheer says Albertans will need to find new ways to celebrate cultural events to continue being safe and healthy during this challenging time.

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