Canada’s Sikh community offers support to Syrian refugees

Toronto, Nov 24 (IANS) The Sikh community in Canada came together to offer services to support the Syrian refugees who are expected to arrive in the area over the next few months.

The Sikhs in Lower Mainland — name commonly applied to the region surrounding and including Vancouver, British Columbia — offered help with housing, schooling, food and clothing to the Syrian refugees coming to Canada, CBC News reported on Monday.

“The Sikh community themselves have come to Canada in many different ways from the early 1900s and onwards,” said Randeep Sarai, Surrey Centre MP.

“Welcoming others, newcomers, was part of their life, whether they (Canadian people) knew them or not. Whether immigrants came from India, or whether they were refugees in tumultuous times during the ’80s, the Sikh way, the Canadian way, was always to give them a home, help them at the temple and help feed them,” he said.

Government officials estimated that around 2,500 Syrian refugees could land in the region within the next few weeks. These refugees have left Syria because of the ongoing civil war.

Some Sikh organisations expressed a desire to help in resettling the refugees.

Services like free tuition for 1,000 students at Khalsa School for one year, free meals, clothing and blankets for 2,000 refugees from many gurdwaras, transportation and medical services would be offered to the refugees.

The Khalsa School in Surrey has extended its help to educate the children of Syrian refugees.

“We even have several teachers who speak Arabic, and we will do whatever we can to help the new students feel welcome,” Kamalpreet Bagga, the school principal, said.

She said that interfaith teaching would be offered to them.

The federal government plans to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the New Year.

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