The Sikh community takes root in the Maritimes and gains followers

You feel well, you’re well received, in a marvelous way, it warms the heart.

Ola feels that he has found a new family, that of the Sikh community. Like all Sikh men, this Acadian you meet at the gurdwara [temple sikh] of Boudreau-Ouest is called Singh, which means lion in Punjabi.

You feel like a peace, explains Ola, putting his hand on his chest. The man in the blue turban feels welcome and encouraged when he is among Sikhs who want always help.

Man wearing blue turban in a Sikh temple.

Ola Singh feels welcome in the Sikh community.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Janique LeBlanc

For the past two years, Sikhs from all over the Maritimes have converged on Sundays at the first Sikh temple in New Brunswick, located in Boudreau-Ouest, near Shediac. They come to pray in front of Babadji, the sacred book which records the word of the guru.

Sikhism, little known in the region, is practiced by more than 30 million people worldwide, most of them in India. It is the fourth largest religion in Canada, after Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. Sikhism preaches a life of integrity and invites to live in a brotherly and generous way.

We share everything we can with everyone, regardless of religion or color. We believe there is a God and all roads lead to a Godexplains Balwant Singh.

People are eating sitting on the ground.

In the language [cuisine communautaire sikhe], the faithful drink tea and eat free vegetarian meals. They are seated on the ground, a symbol that all are equal.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Serge Clavette

This sharing is particularly evident in the langar, the community kitchen set up under a tent next to the temple. It offers tea and vegetarian dishes to people who eat sitting on the ground to the sound of temple songs and prayers.

Everyone is equal and eats sitting on the floorexplains Prabhjot Singh as he serves tea and pakoras.

The people of all religions, all castes and all countries can come and sit here, eat here. We help each other because we are building a community herespecifies the young Indian who came to study in Toronto in 2018 and settled in New Brunswick since June 2021.

Some converts to Sikhism

Although their presence in the Maritimes is fairly recent, the Sikh values ​​of sharing and mutual aid are attracting new followers. Me, it attracted me a lot because humanity is equal to one, says Ola Singh, referring to the Sikh motto. He loves the family side, the respect and the willingness to help Sikhs.

Young redhead man with short beard wearing a red turban.

Brian Taylor had drug and alcohol problems. He says his conversion to Sikhism transformed his life.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Serge Clavette

Brian Taylor, a young Nova Scotian, says he has become a better person because of the love and compassion he found within the Sikh community.

I grew up in rural Nova Scotia where there wasn’t much to do so I got into drugs and alcohol. Since I became a Sikh about a year ago it has really helped change my lifesays this young redhead in a turban and t-shirt.

Sikhi is a beautiful religion, exclaims Anahat Kaur, a student who traveled from Oromocto to attend the Maritimes’ first Sikh procession on May 8 in Shediac. The young Indian girl from a Hindu family converted to Sikhism.

Young woman wearing glasses, a blue turban and a white veil.

Anahat Kaur is a young Hindu who converted to Sikhism, a religion that she finds fantastic because of the values ​​of sharing, mutual aid and equality that she advocates.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Serge Clavette

As a woman, I have a feeling of power because our tenth guru gave us the title of Kaur, which means princess.she said enthusiastically.

She shows her turban explaining that it is a crown. There is no difference or discrimination between a woman and a man. He is as equal as a son as I am as a daughter of my guru she says with conviction.

A growing community

Since moving to New Brunswick in 2015, businessman Balwant Singh has been heavily involved in fostering the development of the local Sikh community.

Man with big beard and blue turban in front of photo of Sikh temple.

Balwant Singh is a businessman whose businesses fund the development of the Sikh community in New Brunswick.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Janique LeBlanc

This owner of a travel agency and a driving school in Ontario has set up a special room in his home for the sacred book which records the word of the Guru Granth Sahib. Another room is used to store all the food that is prepared and offered to people who come to the temple on Sundays.

Balwant Singh purchased the former Jehovah’s Witness temple in Boudreau West and 15 acres of land in Shediac River where the community wants to build a Sikh temple, food bank, medical center, funeral home with incinerator and space for sports including a cricket pitch.

Four men in orange turbans sing in a Sikh temple.

The Sikh community in New Brunswick brought three singers and a preacher from the Golden Temple of Amritsar to India to enrich the religious ceremonies.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Janique LeBlanc

The Sikh community also brought in a preacher and three musicians from the Golden Temple of Amritsar in India to enrich the religious ceremonies and activities. More than a million dollars have already been invested in the purchase of land and real estate, largely financed by the travel agency and driving school run by Balwant Singh.

At the moment the money comes from businesses and real estate, reluctantly concedes the businessman. Mr. Singh prefers to say that the funds come from the community. He specifies that the guru grants their wealth to the Sikhs so that they share it.

An ambitious project awaiting funds and authorizations

Further funds will be needed to advance the new Sikh temple project. Some development has been done on the Shediac River property. A well has been dug but a series of steps must be completed before construction begins.

It will be necessary to present detailed plans to the Beaubassin development commission, to modify the rural zoning of the land and to obtain building permits after an environmental impact study and consultation with the neighborhood.

A 4-storey white temple topped with numerous domes.

The future Sikh temple in Shediac River will be inspired by this temple.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Janique LeBlanc

While waiting to realize the temple of their dream, the Sikhs held a procession, the first of its kind in the Maritimes, in Shediac on May 8th. Hundreds of people attended, including Prabhjot Singh Pardesi, who came with a group of Sikhs from Prince Edward Island.

We were 20 to 25 cars with 70 to 80 people. We left around 8 a.m. this morning, we were so excited about this parade.rejoices those who frequent the brand new Sikh temple on the island, opened last April in Stratford.

A float decorated with flowers and orange flags is followed by a walking crowd.

Hundreds of Sikhs marched through the streets of Shediac in their first procession held in the Maritimes.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Janique LeBlanc

Navneet Kaur and her spouse Nawab Deep Singh moved to Moncton from Toronto in 2020. People are very helpful. I didn’t think they would be so helpful. I am grateful. I really like it here. And real estate is much cheaper than in Torontoexclaims the young woman with long black hair.

Kuljeet Singh studied at the New Brunswick Community College in Moncton and obtained his work permit. The young man love the people here and freedom and democracy very much.

Sikhs like Kuljeet, Navneet, Nawab, Anahat and Prabhjot are happy and proud to share their values ​​of compassion and caring with people in the area where they have chosen to settle. They want to live here in peace as their guru teaches.

We are brothers and sisters. Only the skin color is different, the blood is the same, recalls Balwant Singh. The man with the big gray beard intends to continue to invest so that Sikhism develops further in the maritime provinces.

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