HUNDREDS of Sikh motorcyclists came together once again for their 4th annual Sikh Motorcycle Club’s charity gala and this year they honoured the United Sikhs organization for their the global disaster relief work.
Several elected officials also attended the event, which comes just weeks after Ontario recognized a motorcycle helmet exemption for turbaned Sikhs. The elected officials in attendance
included Ontario Premier Doug Ford, as well as: MPP Sara Singh, Co-Deputy Leader of the NDP, MP Garnett Genuis, MPPs Kevin Yarde, Prabhmeet Sarkaria, Gurratan Singh, Deepak Anand, Faisal Hassan and Amarjot Sandhu, MP Ruby Sahota, Peel Regional Councillors Paul Vicente, Pat Fortini and Gurpreet Singh Dhillon, Brampton City Councillors Rowena Santos and Harkirat Singh, and Peel District School Board Trustee Balbir Sohi.
Canada’s Leader of the Official Opposition Andrew Scheer could not attend the proceedings, however he visited the members the day before the event. After meeting with the group, Scheer recorded a special message for the gala. MP Genuis also spoke as a continuation of Scheer’s message.
MPP Gurratan Singh read a message on behalf of the Leader of the federal NDP, Jagmeet Singh, and presented a certificate to the club on his behalf.
“We are pleased to have seen such a diverse group of elected officials join us in celebrating the recent helmet exemption — a struggle that was 20 years in the making,” said Jagdeep Singh, United Sikhs International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy Director. “As citizens of this country, we should not be left to fight court battles, or plead with Human Rights Tribunals. Tonight I deliver a call to all levels of government, to unite in a common purpose, a higher purpose, and that is to include completely and celebrate the individuality of all religions, groups and ethnicity as Canadians. We look forward to building upon this momentum to allow turbaned Sikhs to practice their faiths fearlessly across all sectors, including places of employment, where a helmet is required.”
To date, helmet exemptions have been granted for Sikhs in British Columbia, Manitoba, Alberta and Ontario. In 2019, United Sikhs will work with the Sikh Motorcycle Club to ensure this policy is a key point of focus in the House of Commons and elsewhere throughout the world.
As the esteemed honourees of the event, United Sikhs Aid Director Jatinder Singh accepted recognition of “Charity of the Year” and delivered a keynote speech highlighting initiatives accomplished by the organization’s Canadian chapter in 2018.
“United Sikhs programs host a number of projects that serve multi-faith communities in Canada and around the world,” said Jatinder Singh. “As we celebrate our accomplishments in 2018, we look forward to continuing our efforts to uplift humanity through disaster relief and human rights advocacy in tandem with civic minded organizations, like the Sikh Motorcycle Club, as well as our elected officials who tirelessly fight to improve the lives of all Canadians. We thank the Club for bestowing upon us the honor of ‘Charity of the Year’ and working with us to amplify the rights of the Sikh community.”
Earlier this month, an international delegation of United Sikhs members shared the principles of Sikhi at the Parliament of World’s Religions, hosted in Ontario. Highlighting the contributions of the local Sikh community, volunteers from several of the non-profit’s global chapters participated in several panels and assisted in serving more than 20,000 warm meals to people of all faiths for a week.
In September, United Sikhs advocates, led by Sukhwinder Singh and Jagdeep Singh, gained worldwide recognition when they joined several MPs in the House of Commons to table petitions signed by thousands of Canadians advocating for asylum for Afghan Sikhs and Hindus facing extreme persecution. Advocates continue to call upon Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to create a pathway to sponsorship.
The organization achieved another milestone over the summer, as hundreds of Peel residents attended their Town Hall on Youth Violence. After reading reports of violent attacks involving youth in Brampton, United Sikhs organized the town hall to address growing public safety concerns. The organization is actively working with several officials and agencies to help form a non-partisan Anti-Violence Task Force.
“As humanitarians, we have a lot to be thankful for in 2018, including the prestigious award in recognition of our work presented by the Sikh Motorcycle Club” said Tanbir Kaur, United Sikhs Canada Director. “Striving towards achieving measurable goals for this ongoing work in 2019, we look forward to meeting with Premier Doug Ford and other officials and agencies to ensure the voice of the Sikh diaspora and all minority communities are heard. Looking to the New Year, we are excited for continued progress for religious freedom and human rights.”