Calgary Gurudwara Elections: Sikh Youth wins for the 1st time

Hailing from Toronto but having lived in Calgary for 8 months in 2012, yesterday I felt blessed to be there amongst the late evening celebrations running throughout the community. A new era began in Calgary on the night of October 19, 2013 when it was announced that the 18 member slate from the local Sikh Youth, who contended for the first time, won the Dashmesh Culture Center (aka Martindale Gurudwara) elections by winning 3200 vs 2800 votes.

10 of the 18 members are below 35 years of age and are very passionate group of young Sikhs from Calgary. The slate is proud to have included 3 senior members and 5 members between 35-50 years of age who had been long supporters of the activities that the youth had been involved with. It is these efforts and activities, such as those listed below, which won the hearts of thousands of Sikhs in Calgary in this attempt to revitalize the Gurdwara.

The Sikh Youth have been involved with:
– Occasionally serving meals at the local homeless shelters
– Organizing multicultural outreach events such as the ‘Celebrating Canada Day, The Turban Day’ in July 2012 where over 2000 people of non-Indian origin tied red and white turbans. This event got nationwide media coverage.
– Participating in several youth-led Kirtan and simran programs held throughout the week
– Managing logistics and traffic for annual Nagar Kirtans since 1999
– Organizing countless educational workshops and Gurmat camps with many renowned Sikhs from around the world including Chardikala Jatha (US) and Jagraj Singh (UK)
– Developing and facilitating intermural basketball and self defense classes to help unite youth and young adults
– Getting involved with surrounding community associations and hosting gurdwara tours
– Organizing hikes, sports tournaments, and other interactive youth-based activities

Every worshipper in the Gurudwara termed the elections held on Oct 19 as the biggest ever with over 6000 people out of the 13000 coming out to vote. People bared the cold wind and stood as long as 1.5 hours in line for their turn to vote. The passion of the elderly and their support for the youth was overwhelming. Even senior men and women who had problems with walking and standing had come to vote. They were helped by youth volunteers to make their way to the priority line.

The brightest part of the whole election process was the campaigning by young kids. Young kids aged 9-15 accompanied their young adult role models to every house visit in the past 6-7 months of campaigning. On the day of the elections, they stood like the Wall of China at the entrance of the Gurudwara donning ‘Vote Calgary Sikh Youth’ t-shirts and passionately rallied for the cause which won the hearts of parents and the elderly.

A herculean task has fallen upon the young yet strong shoulders of the Sikh Youth. The election became a cause to unite in bigger numbers than ever before. They look forward for support from the whole Sangat of Calgary, including those who chose not to vote for them, to accomplish the ‘Sarbat Da Bhala’ tasks below:

– Aim to ensure Gurmat Maryada is followed in everything that happens in the Gurudwara
– Aim to make Gurudwara a welcoming place for everyone where everyone talks sweetly and is welcomed into the Gurudwara with a smile (much like we are greeted by customer service when we enter banks)
– Aim to ensure 100% transparency between the committee and the sangat for use of donation funds
– Attempt to attract the kids aged 13 and below to the Gurudwara by engaging them in phyiscal activities while listening or viewing Gurbani and involving them in volunteer roles
– Work towards promoting physical exercise, martial arts, seva and simran in the community
– Work towards outreaching to other communities and build a strong relationship
– Work towards addressing parking issues, accessibility issues to seniors, transportation issues

They plan to make the Dashmesh Culture Cetner Gurudwara a pleasant, calm and a spiritual place that everyone wants to come over and over again. It is time for the all Sikhs of Calgary to come out of their shell walk shoulder with shoulder with the youth and do selfless service to bring about an exponential positive change. The world and Sikhs all over will wait and watch because ‘here comes the boom!’

A legendary speech on the night of the announcement by the senior most member of the winning slate can be viewed here:

Anterjot Singh.
(Sevadar for teaching Gurmukhi and Gurbani Santhya to kids)

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