Surrey: The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) took part in Celebrating Our Differences: Creating Positive Change in a Divided World on Sunday, January 28. Celebrating Our Differences shared songs, stories and teachings from many faiths and spiritual paths. It kicked off a series of events in Surrey celebrating World Interfaith Harmony Week, a yearly worldwide UN observance where faith communities and interfaith groups come together to showcase the work they do for the common good of all.
The musicians and singers set the stage for Celebrating Our Differences by sharing some of the challenges we face today. They spoke about the rise in fear and intolerance, the experience of survivors of Indian residential schools, missing and murdered indigenous women and the many women and men who have shared their #MeToo stories. They then explored how cultivating courage and self-reflection along with understanding how interconnected we all are can help to empower us all to create positive change.
Daughters of the Drum lead participants in a web exercise that engaged participants to explore the interconnections we have with each other. Aline La Flamme, founding member and Metis grandmother, pipe carrier, Sundancer, drum maker, and singer taught participants that the honour of one is the honour of all; the hurt of one is the hurt of the all; and the survival of one is the survival of all.
Acharya Dwivedi, president of the Multifaith Action Society, long-time member of the interfaith movement in Canada, and a member of the Hindu community also spoke at the event. When thanking Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara for hosting Celebrating Our Differences, he reminded everyone that the Sikh spiritual path has been rooted in interfaith since its formation over five hundred years ago.
Celebrating Our Differences was made possible through the collaborative efforts of a coalition of organizations. The coalition included:
- Daughters of the Drum, a Vancouver-based collective of primarily Aboriginal women who drum, sing, and perform with the intention of celebrating and preserving Aboriginal culture.
- The Multifaith Action Society, one of Canada’s oldest interfaith organizations.
- Naad Foundation, an intercultural centre dedicated to preserving and promoting the culture, traditions and heritage of music, dance and literature.
- Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara, a Sikh Gurdwara that is actively involved in interfaith initiatives in Surrey.
- WSO, a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs, as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights of all individuals, irrespective of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, and social and economic status.
WSO National VP Bhavjinder Kaur who attended the event with her family said, “Celebrating Our Differences allowed us to see interfaith harmony in action. Musicians and singers from different backgrounds worked together to share stories, songs and teachings from many faiths. I encourage everyone to attend upcoming World Interfaith Harmony Week celebrations in their communities.”