The Algoma Sikh Association will be delivering roughly 30 care packages to Pauline’s Place and Women in Crisis Algoma this week through its fundraising efforts.
The packages, filled with hygiene products and essentials for women by volunteers Sunday night, are being distributed for International Women’s Day and as part of One Billion Rising, a global campaign to end rape and sexual violence against women.
Algoma Sikh Association President Gurwinder Singh, who is a member of the World Sikh Organization (WSO), tells SooToday he organized the care package project as a way of practising selfless service, or seva, which is a core tenant of Sikhi.
Singh learned about One Billion Rising through WSO, which has joined the global movement by preparing more than 2,000 care packages for women and children in shelters across Canada.
“You’re supposed to be serving your community, whether it be your own religious community, or broader than that, your local community, regardless of religion or belief,” Singh told SooToday while care packages were being assembled by volunteers. “Everyone who is experiencing violence or experiencing oppression needs help, so it’s built into our belief that if there’s anyone that needs help, we are supposed to be identified – that’s why we actually wear the turban and beard, so we’re easily identified in a crowd.”
“Anyone can ask for help, and they’ll know this person has his tenants of helping people out.”
Singh says that more recent provincial cuts to emergency shelters and sexual assault centres have been left in the hands of “communities as opposed to the government.”
That’s why the local Sikh association is aiming to provide 100 care packages next year as part of WSO efforts to support the One Billion Rising movement.
It’s also hoping to expand its care package project to shelters in Sault, Mich. as well.
“Bringing that to Sault Ste. Marie and giving the Sikh community a chance to do seva, which is selfless service, for our broader local community – especially the vulnerable members of the community – is a great feeling, for sure,” Singh said.
The Algoma Sikh Association says the Sikh community in Sault Ste. Marie is sitting at roughly 1,000 people.