Mr. Speaker, once again, I am proud to rise in the House to debate Bill C-376 at second reading.
The bill was introduced by the member for Surrey—Newton, and I was more than happy to second it. I am humbled and enormously grateful for this opportunity to speak in favour of a bill that provides an opportunity to highlight the many contributions that Canadians of Sikh heritage have made to Canada, and an occasion to educate future generations about the role that Sikh Canadians have played and will continue to play in communities across this country.
At the heart of this bill are everyday Canadians. At the heart of this bill are values that all Canadians share, cherish and protect. At the heart of this bill are diversity, inclusion and tolerance.
Every day, Sikh institutions, like Seva Food Bank, are doing tremendous work, in this case by running and operating a food bank in Mississauga that provides services to over 900 families each month. The Guru Gobind Singh Children's Foundation, which operates under the motto “children helping children”, holds annual charity runs to help raise money for children in third world countries. The Guru Nanak’s Free Kitchen is a voluntary organization in British Columbia, that is working on eradicating food insecurity through the Sikh practice of langar, a community kitchen, where everyone is treated equally.
These three organizations are just a small number of the numerous Sikh organizations across this country helping Canadians succeed.
A Sikh heritage month is also an occasion to educate future generations about the role that Sikh Canadians have played and will continue to play in this country.
It is well-known that Canada is one of the most diverse countries in the world. Canadians of Sikh origin have contributed to this diversity, which is interwoven into the cultural fabric of our country. We continue to honour and preserve our history and heritage, in order to inspire future generations to continue sharing our country's story. Diversity is Canada's strength, and our differences, no doubt, make us stronger.
I fully support Bill C-376, which is seeking to formally celebrate the month of April as Sikh heritage month. I have always said I am a proud Sikh and proud Canadian, but I am most proud to live in a nation that does not make me choose between devotion to my faith and devotion to my country.
When people ask me about the Sikh Canadian story, I always sum it up as follows.
In 1867, then-prime minister Sir John A. Macdonald asked for an army of Sikhs to help secure Montreal from a U.S. invasion. In 2015, a Sikh was appointed the Minister of National Defence. This story is only possible in the greatest country in the world. Sikhs are truly living the Canadian dream.
I look forward to seeing this bill pass, and when it does, I will look forward to celebrating with Sikhs and Canadians of all different backgrounds across this country, from coast to coast to coast.
When people ask me why we need heritage months in the first place, the answer for me is quite simple. The beauty of Canada is that no matter where people come from, no matter what people believe in, Canada will always have a place for them, too. This does not happen by accident and will not continue without effort. Heritage months provide an opportunity to educate and learn about the history of our fellow Canadians, and that is why I fully support the concept of heritage months. I look forward to celebrating Sikh heritage month this April.