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Canadian Sikhs respond to Vandalism with Understanding

January 26, 2015 | By

Edmonton, Canada: Members of the Sri Guru Singh Sabha gurdwara found two racist and unpleasant messages spray painted on the outside of the south Edmonton building earlier this month. While anti-Sikh sentiments are not entirely new, this incident is being regarded by most news organizations as particularly disturbing for the area. The statements reportedly told the Sikhs to “leave Canada” and made other undisclosed comments about Indians. However, it is not the vandalism that is making the news; it is the response that the Sikhs have had towards the incident.

A Measured Response:

A South Edmonton Sikh Gurdwara found unpleasant phrases spray painted on the Gurdwara walls, but leaders have a surprising reaction.

A South Edmonton Sikh Gurdwara found unpleasant phrases spray painted on the Gurdwara walls, but leaders have a surprising reaction.

The World Sikh Organization of Canada has come out against the vandalism, saying that it comes at a time when many people’s views of foreigners and religion are already feeding into a negative atmosphere. However, Tejinder Singh Sidhu, a leader of the Alberta branch of the WSO, says that he understands these incidents because they come from fear and ignorance of the Sikhs. His response is not the one that is typically seen when being told to leave their home communities based on race and religion: he is advocating for education and understanding. According to Sidhu, the more that people understand who the Sikhs are and what they stand for, the better the community will be for everyone.

For example, this particular Sikh assembly, the Sri Guru Singh Sabha gurdwara, has been actively involved in community outreach programs that seek to help those in less fortunate circumstances. They have raised thousands for a local food bank, and have been welcoming of locals in their parades and celebrations. With the gracious response to a hate-filled message, the WSO still says that people need to be vigilant and take a stand against such blatant racism.

Sikhs in Canada:

While it appears that some people do not understand the rich history that Sikhism has in Canada, the fact of the matter is that it has been around for a long time. Alberta alone is home to over 50,000 Sikhs, with over 450,000 different Sikhs in Canada. Still, there are some that see them as foreign even though they have been an integral part of the nation, and have used much of their efforts to preach equality among all people. Even with such a horrible reminder that racism is still part of the world today, the Sikhs’ reaction to it shows that temperance and understanding are key to combating intolerance.

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