September 19, 2013 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Vancouver, Canada (September 18, 2013): “The World Sikh Organization of Canada and the Sikh community in Canada stand in solidarity with Aboriginal Canadians to support the work of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), in the spirit of Sarbat Da Bhalla or the upliftment and benefit of all” reads a written statement sent by WSO Executive Director Sukhvinder Kaur Vinning to the Sikh Siyasat News (SSN).
The TRC was established to learn the truth about what happened in residential schools in Canada to aboriginal children. These government-funded, church-run schools were set up to eliminate parental involvement in the intellectual, cultural, and spiritual development of Aboriginal children. The schools, in short, aimed to take the Indian out of the child.
Over 130 residential schools were located across the country, with the last school closing in 1996. During the approximately 150 years the schools were open, aboriginal children experienced physical, mental and sexual abuse. They were forbidden to speak their language and practice their own faith and culture.
Allowing the voices of victims to be heard is an essential part of the process of recovery and redress.
The Sikh community has a special understanding of the situation, given the generation of Sikh youth which was lost following the tragic events of 1984.
To hear from the survivors of residential schools and to share the truth with non-Aboriginal Canadians in BC, the TRC is holding a National Event that will begin on September 18, 2013. They will gather statements from survivors and offer educational workshops till Saturday, September 21st.
WSO, along with members of the Sikh community in the Lower Mainland, will be offering an expression of reconciliation on Saturday, September 21st. The expression will be a series of videos that WSO is producing to help express solidarity and to help educate on the legacy of Residential School abuse.
On Sunday, September 22nd, Reconciliation Canada in partnership with the City of Vancouver and other organizations is holding a Walk for Reconciliation in Vancouver, BC. The walk is a historic event and will start with a speech from Dr. Bernice King, daughter of the US civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. The opening ceremony will be held at 9 am, with the walk starting at 10 am.
WSO British Columbia Vice President Gurdit Singh said, “WSO has been proud to work with Reconciliation Canada, an organization committed to creating awareness of the traditional barriers to diversity that currently exist in Canada. They have been engaging people from every part of Canadian society in open and honest conversations about our diverse histories and experiences, in order to shape a new
way forward. It’s important for Canadian Sikhs to take part and support this work by attending the workshops and the walk.”
Chief Dr. Robert Joseph, a Gwawaenuk Elder with Reconciliation Canada said, “Our future, and the well being of all our children rests with the kind of relationships we build today.”
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