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Celebrating the Birth of Khalsa

Remarks by Hon. David Kilgour, M.P. Edmonton Southeast
Secretary of State (Latin America & Africa)
During the Celebration of Vaisakhi Day
Jubilee Auditorium, May 2, 1999


Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa,
Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh !

It is an enormous honour to be here today to celebrate Vaisakhi. Someone said there are about 15,000 people here!

This year marks the 300th anniversary of establishment of Khalsa – a body of people dedicated to the principles of Truth, Justice, and Equality; the cardinal principles of Sikh faith.

Khalsa is dedicated to upholding the principles of truth, justice and equality and thus should be a model for all of humanity. The Sikh Gurus showed learning, understanding, tolerance and sacrifice. There is no reason why Sikhs, following the teachings of the Gurus, cannot help create a world of peace, mutual goodwill, harmony and prosperity.

Modern Sikhs

Today, the world recognizes Sikhs as a distinct people who managed to maintain their ideals and independent identity during the very difficult Mogul period and during the British rule of India. While there have been numerous attempts to destroy the Sikh identity by force of arms, historical revisionism, educational misinformation, and cultural assimilation, Sikhs have successfully maintained a way of life and followed a clear set of principles given by their gurus.

Sikhs have grown and prospered – driven by a powerful guiding force and a humanitarian mission to fight injustice, oppression and tyranny. Your community has served, suffered and sacrificed for the cause of humankind, irrespective of gender, religion, caste or creed.

The history of the Sikh community in Canada bears witness that there is much truth in the saying, "Through adversity comes strength." Sikhs have emerged from the crucible of Canadian history with determination to survive and prosper. As a result the community is strong. I wish all of you could have been present recently at the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa when the new stamp in honour of the community was launched at a large dinner. It was a proud moment – long overdue.

One cannot ignore the elements of intolerance in Canadian society, we can focus on the silver lining of positive change. The vast majority of Canadians hold that the cultural mosaic comprising our national family is an important part of Canadian identity. Cultural pluralism enriches Canadian culture and the Sikh community is an important and essential part of our richness.

Sikhism – the fifth largest religion in the world today is perhaps the most democratic of all. You have preserved and practised a rich tradition of social, cultural and spiritual values embodied in ‘Sikh way of life.’ During the past hundred years in Canada, you have proven your worth as builders of society, our economy and the nation.

What you have contributed during the past century is truly remarkable and every Canadian should be proud of your accomplishments.

This 300th anniversary of the creation of Khalsa Panth and the 100 anniversary of Sikhs in Canada is, of course, a very special time. I encourage you all to be proud of your history and heritage.

When Sikhs first came to Canada, they came as ambassadors of the faith. You have done an excellent job representing your faith, values and traditions. Now, when you travel outside, you are the ambassadors of Sikhism and ambassadors of Canada. The prestige and image of Canada is placed in capable hands.

I salute the visionary, strategic, secular, democratic, and humanitarian approach of Sikh Gurus, as I’m sure you do, and urge you to hold your heads high as members of the Khalsa and as Canadians.

Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa
Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh.

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