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Prime Minister Stephen Harper wished the Sikh community a very Happy Vaisakhi and lauded the Sikh religion. Speaking in the presence of several Conservative leaders, Harper said he was thankful that Canada is home to one of the largest Sikh populations. “Friends, today is a day of thanksgiving,” stated the Prime Minister on April 15 on Parliament Hill in the presence of Ministers Jason Kenney, Tim Uppal and Bal Gosal as well as several Members of Parliament including Patrick Brown, Brad Butt, Joe Daniel, Bob Dechert, Parm Gill, Nina Grewal, Kyle Seeback and Devinder Shory. “For Sikhs this is not only the start of the New Year, but also the anniversary of the day in 1699 when Guru Gobind Singh created the Khalsa – the body of baptized Sikhs.

Since that day, Sikhism has grown to become one of the world’s great religions. And, as so many in Canada and around the world celebrate Vaisakhi, I am thankful that our country is home to one of the largest and most dynamic Sikh populations outside of India.” The Prime Minister also reminisced fondly of his trip to the Gur Sikh temple in Abbotsford in British Columbia, the oldest standing Sikh temple in North America. “Just two years ago, I was privileged to visit it.

It stands today as a National Historic Site, a reminder to all Canadians that Sikhs have been a vital part of Canadian society for more than 100 years.” Harper also referred to his two trips to India emphasizing his visit to two of Sikhism’s holiest shrines. “Last year Laureen and I toured the Gurdwara Sri Keshgarh Sahib. We were also very fortunate to see the stunning Khalsa Heritage Centre, designed by Canadian Architect Moshe Safdie,” he said. “And, of course, in 2009, we visited the Harmandir Sahib ¬- the Golden Temple – the spiritual home of Sikhs around the world. There, we experienced firsthand the stunning beauty of the temple as well as the energy and devotion of the people.” “There are four gates at the Golden Temple , each facing a different point on the compass, each symbolizing the openness of the Sikh religion to all others around the world.

And this is just one of the values Sikhs have brought to Canada,” he said. “These are the values that help make the Sikh community so strong. They are also the values that make Canada the best country in the world, the best place anywhere to live, work and raise a family.

It is a time for all Canadians to celebrate the contribution Indo-Canadians from all walks of life make to this great nation from coast to coast to coast.” “So, as Prime Minister, and on behalf of all Canadians, let me wish everyone a Happy Vaisakhi.” Meanwhile, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism also sent a message for Vaisakhi, one of the most important observances of the year for Sikhs in Canada and around the world. “Canada’s vibrant Sikh community – one of the largest outside of India – organizes some of the biggest Vaisakhi celebrations outside of Punjab, where Sikhism originated in the 15th century.

Observances at Gurdwaras are a focal point of celebrations, along with parades and processions – known as Nagar Kirtans – through cities and towns,” said Jason Kenney. “For all Canadians, Vaisakhi provides an excellent opportunity to curreflect on the tremendous contributions that Sikhs have made to this country’s rich and diverse heritage.” Mayor Susan Fennel, whose city Brampton is home to thousands of Sikhs, also congratulated the community. “Thousands of new Canadians have come to Brampton, from around the world, to earn a good education, raise a family, build a business, create jobs, achieve success, and invest back in our community as concerned citizens and dedicated volunteers. Brampton is a better place because of these contributions. “As Mayor of Brampton, I wish all those celebrating Vaisakhi, a very happy and memorable day.”

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