Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today to speak to my Bill C-376, an act to designate the month of April as Sikh heritage month. I would like to thank the parliamentary secretary, opposition critics, all the members who spoke and all members from all sides for their support for the bill.
I would also like to give special thanks to my esteemed colleague and hard-working member for St. John's East for giving me his private member's spot and allowing me the opportunity to have the second hour of the bill debated today.
As other members have mentioned, the journey of Sikhs in Canada has not only taken the community to great heights, but at the same time it has helped Canada transform into a proudly diverse and welcoming nation.
There are over half a million Sikhs in Canada, which is the largest population of Sikhs outside of India. Sikhs are now equal members of our society, working in every sector of our economy, and above all, very proud Canadians.
Along the journey, there were many contributions by Sikh Canadians who had fought for equality in our democracy, respect in our workplaces and freedom in our society. With the passing of this bill, we can ensure that all Canadians will learn about these contributions, better understand the history of our country and celebrate the culture and religion of those from the Sikh faith. Better understanding and celebrating religions is important because it strengthens our diversity.
To quote the right hon. Prime Minister, and member for Papineau, “Canadians understand that diversity is our strength. We know that Canada has succeeded—culturally, politically, economically—because of our diversity, not in spite of it.” There is a strong connection between Canadian values and Sikh values, as both put a priority on respect for others, selfless service and equality. These values are the foundation of the Sikh faith and our Canadian culture.
I want to take a moment and share with everyone a little about the Sikh faith. Fundamental beliefs of Sikhism include faith and meditation on the name of one creator, the divine unity and equality of all humankind, engaging in selfless service and striving for justice for the benefit and prosperity of all.
Sikhism is based on the spiritual teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the first guru and the founder of the Sikh religion, and the nine Sikh gurus who succeeded him. The 10th guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, named the Sikh scripture Sri Guru Granth Sahib as his successor, terminating the line of human gurus and making the scripture the eternal religious spiritual guide for Sikhs.
Sikhs have three core duties. In Punjabi, naam japna refers to the remembrance of God by repeating and focusing the mind on his name, kirt karni means to live and earn honestly, and vand chakna is at the core of the faith and means to care about your surrounding community and share your blessings with those around you.
This provides insight into how our cultures are so deeply connected. The values we share need to be better understood, and our history together needs to be remembered and celebrated. That is why I ask each and every member of the House to support the bill so we can continue to better understand more about one another and in the process strengthen our ties to this great nation.
I would like to thank each and every member on both sides of the House for supporting this bill.
[Member spoke in Punjabi]