Guneet Pooni: Sikhs Hold 1984 Candlelight Vigil In Vancouver
Organizers recognize that the Sikh community has faced violent injustices throughout history since before the Partition and well into the present day with the Farmers’ Protest
June 7, 2021 | 2 min. read | Original Reporting
The first week of June marks the 37th anniversary of Operation Bluestar and the 1984 Sikh Genocide that followed.
On June 1, 1984, a government-sanctioned military assault was launched on Gurdwaras across India and the Sri Harmandir Sahib. Sikhs around the world gather the first week of June to commemorate the shaheeds, innocent lives, and the generation of leaders heinously severed from the community.
“I think it's really important to have this vigil every single year because this is what happened to us, to our people, and it's really important to remind ourselves that this is our history,” Gurman Sahota, an organizer of the vigil and co-president of Simon Fraser University’s Sikh Students Association (SSA), said.
Multiple Sikh organizations in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia come together annually to host a candlelight vigil.
Organizers recognize that the Sikh community has faced violent injustices throughout history since before the Partition and well into the present day with the Farmers’ Protest.
Mo Dhaliwal, the co-founder of the Poetic Justice Foundation, spoke at the event and stressed the importance of coming together as a community to stand against oppression.
“The most important thing we can do today is reach out to [our community], reach out to the community that isn’t here, and continue projecting our power. Continue projecting our culture and our ideas into the future,” he said.
Paramvir Deol, an organizer of the vigil and co-president of SFU’s SSA emphasized standing with other communities as well -- globally and here, as settlers on Turtle Island.
“[We’re] trying to say that this isn't a separate issue. It's not like, ‘this is my issue, this is your issue’. No, it's just a human rights issue and the community should be there to help each other out during this time,” he said.
“That’s what Sikhi is about too, we’re not just fighting for ourselves, but others [as well],” Sahota added.
Doel and Sahota’s message resonated with attendees of the vigil.
Maya Al-Badarin is Palestinian and believes it is important for communities to stand together and for her, as a young person, to take action.
Jasmin Lyck also attended the event. She is Black and also from the Saulteau First Nations so she said she knows what it feels like to come from communities that have experienced genocide and continue to face injustices. She stands in solidarity with the Sikh community and emphasizes the need for people to unite and speak up.
“More people need to understand that it's not just an issue within your own country, it's a global issue, but that doesn't mean it’s foreign, these things are happening all over the world,” Lyck said.
Guneet Pooni is a freelance journalist and is currently studying International Relations & Law and Society at the University of British Columbia. You can find her on Twitter at @guneet_p.
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