Sikh community getting comfortable in Estevan

Estevan Mercury
October 2, 2013 01:00 AM

They're a growing part of the Energy City's cultural landscape, and the Estevan Sikh Society expects its members to be vital citizens in the city's future.

It was in July that the society, representing between 150 and 200 Sikhs in the Estevan community, became a recognized non-profit organization.

Manpreet Sangha is a member of the Estevan Sikh Society and works as the economic development officer at the Estevan Chamber of Commerce.

"In July, a group of about 200 people sat together, and we propagated this idea that we should be formulating a Sikh society," said Sangha.

There are Sikh temples in Regina and Saskatoon where locals will travel for worship, but there is no place in Estevan for the Sikh community to practise their faith. The society feels it's important to create a place of worship that can accommodate the growing number of Sikhs in the city.

"One of the goals is to build a temple here, because the community plans to stay in Estevan for the long term," said Sangha.

As a non-profit religious organization, she added that the Estevan Sikh Society stands as a pillar of Sikhism.

"The Society is proud to be a part of the cultural mosaic that is Canada, and it wants to promote an attitude of integration, participation and community service."

Sikh societies are becoming more prevalent across the country, but in Saskatchewan, the fraternities are only established in Regina and Saskatoon.

Now that they are a certified religious society, Sangha said they are looking to find a centre to rent that they are able to use as a temple.

"We're trying to have the religious prayers at one of the residences owned by people in our community," she said. "For those who do have houses we try to have religious prayers in one of those houses."

With upwards of 200 Sikhs interested in worshipping as a collective whole each month, those get-togethers can fill a house very quickly.

Sangha said the local Sikh society is an open one, and people of all faiths are welcome to join them during any of their meetings.

"Our main motive is the noble deeds, to help others and to have the cycle of compassion and goodwill be continuous," she added.

She said the Indian community in Estevan is larger than the area's Sikhs. She said it's important to remember that while Sikhism is an Indian faith, not all Indians identify as Sikhs.

Sikhism is a faith founded in the 15th Century by Guru Nanak in the region of Punjab. The faith follows the teachings in the Sikh scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

The society has developed a brochure that explains a little about what Sikhs believe.

Sikhs value truth, contentment, compassion, humility, equality and love.

Members of the Sikh community have flocked to Estevan in recent years for employment.

"Just in the last two years, we've become a population of 200. I still remember there were two families in 2010 or 2011, just two families belonging to the Sikh community, staying here in Estevan," said Sangha.

She said a family came to the area from Ontario, and after that, there was a referral line, where different families and acquaintances would inform others of the job opportunities in Estevan.

"Most of the jobs, whether they are white collar, mechanical jobs or skilled trades, people from our community are parts of those jobs," Sangha added.

To gain a little more exposure in the city, the local Bhangra team performed a number of dances during the Collage Multicultural Festival, held at the Estevan Leisure Centre over the weekend. They were accompanied by performers from Regina as well.

"We were so enthusiastic because we don't always get too many chances to perform," said Sangha.

She said the society would like to continue to share their heritage with the city, maybe getting involved in an event around Christmas or a time revolving around one of their festivals.

"We're trying to make our presence felt in the community. It's a small community. There's a lot of love and compassion amongst the people. People are really looking to stay here in the long term," said Sangha.

The Estevan Sikh Society is active on social media and can be found on Facebook for those looking to learn more about the group.

© Copyright Estevan Mercury


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