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By David Murray and Mike Archer. The Gur Sikh Temple celebrated its 100th anniversary in Abbotsford last weekend and the occasion provided an opportunity to celebrate the role of the Indo-Canadian community in the larger community of Abbotsford.The temple opened in 1911. Back then there were only 2,300 Sikhs in BC. There was a massive crowd at Rotary Stadium Sunday, with attendees braving 32 degree heat. Many people were on-hand to give speeches.
Prime Minister Harper described the temple as a shrine to Sikhism. MP Ed Fast spoke of how the the temple has, in many ways, helped bring the two founding cultures of Abbotsford together.
BC Premier Christy Clark spoke of family values and the economy while Adrian Dix , leader of the Provincial NDP spoke of fairness and equality and what the Sikh community has been able to accomplish the last 100 years in our province.
Bruce Ralston, Jinny Sims, Jagrup Brar, Raj Chouhan as well as Adrian Dix were in attendance representing the NDP at the event.The gurdwara, is the oldest long-standing Sikh temple in North America.
Pioneers working in BCâ€™s forestry and farming industries began building the temple in 1908, using lumber donated by the Tretheway family lumber mill At that time, Sikhs in Canada were nearly all men because immigration policies kept their wives and children from joining them in Canada.
Things have changed dramatically since Sikhs first established themselves in Abbotsford. From filling a role as labourers in ther service of the business interests of the time, the Sikh community has become an economic and business force within the city they have helped to build.
Last weekend’s celebration served to remind everyone just how much our Indo-Canadian community has grown and helpedf us to grow in the process.
There are still walls between the two communities which new generations will have to work hard to break down but Temple President Kabal Hundal marked the occassion by focusing on the things we have accomplished together.
And those things are substantial. Despite two vastly different cultures the Sikhs and the Mennonites have found common purpose over the years in the shared committment to helping the poor, the disadvantaged and the unfortunate. The two communities have often diverged in their politics but their objectives have the same – making Abbotsford and BC better.
Sunday’s celebration, if we can keep our focus where the preceding generations have – making things better – will provide us with a benchmark for our efforts going forward to bridge the differences that still divided us.
One thing all speakers made clear – Abbotsford is a better and richer community because of the indelable contributions of the Indo-Canadian community in our continued growth and prosperity.
To the entire Indo-Canadian community of Abbotsford – Thank You – à¨¸à¨¼à©à¨•à¨°à¨¿à¨† .