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When Vicky Thind first moved to Canada almost 20 years ago, it took her a few years to feel connected in her community.

Now, she aims to bring together newcomers through community engagement. One of those ways is through her volunteer work helping to organize the Hamilton’s Sikh Heritage Month Celebrations.

“After a while, newcomers feel a gap if they are not connected to their culture. I want to help them get involved and build community,” she said.

The Sikh community has been in Canada since 1897. Today, Canadian Sikhs account for 1.4% of the Country’s population. In Ontario alone, there are 179,765 Sikhs.

Shaminderjot Singh demonstrates turban tying at Hamilton City Hall during Sikh Heritage Month Celebrations on April 20. / MICHELLE BOTH

“Sikhs have been successful in almost every part of professional society in Hamilton,” explained Vicky. “We have business people, professionals, doctors, lawyers, and nurses.” Most of Hamilton’s Sikh community lives in Stoney Creek, she explained. The majority immigrated in the 1970’s.

Sukh Deep Dhillon chose to get involved in the festivities as a way of exposing her children to more of Sikh culture. “I want my kids to get involved and see the social part and the community part,” she said. She and a group of 10 core volunteers joined together to organize the events.

Sikh students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 across Hamilton created art celebrating Sikh Heritage. (Right) Vicky Thind and Sukh Deep Dhillon were part of a team of 10 core organizers for Hikh Heritage Month Hamiton Celebrations.

Shaminderjot Singh, who works in Hamilton as a nurse, is also a core volunteer. One of his roles during the festivities is doing turban-tying demonstrations. He is stationed at Hamilton City Hall, offering a turban to anyone who asks. He hopes to spread understanding about Sikh philosophy, culture, and religion in Canada.

Sikh Heritage Month will include art exhibits, turban-tying demonstrations, a photo booth, speakers, vendors, and food. Guests will include MPP Jagmeet Singh, MP Raj Grewal, artist Kanwar Singh and professional wrestler Tiger Ali Singh.

“The community has given a lot,” continued Vicky. “I want to give back to the community. If you want to make a change, if you really believe in something, you have to get involved.”

Sikh Heritage Month Reception will be Thursday, April 20 at 6:30 p.m. at Hamilton City Hall. Festivities will continue on Saturday April 22 from 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. at the Stoney Creek Municipal Centre.

For more information visit Sikh Heritage Month Hamilton‘s website or follow them on Instagram or Facebook.

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