Gurpreet Singh: Surrey Vaisakhi parade organizers make history by recognizing Indigenous lands

"It was cautiously decided to make efforts do outreach to the Native people this time."

This year's Surrey Vaisakhi parade marked a new chapter in Canadian Sikh history.

It was the first time that any Sikh temple recognized Indigenous lands during a Vaisakhi parade in Canada, and perhaps across Turtle Island.

Vaisakhi is an auspicious occasion for South Asians. But it has a greater significance for the Sikhs as their 10th master, Guru Gobind Singh, chose this particular day in 1699 to establish Khalsa, a force of dedicated Sikh warriors who rose to fight against injustice and caste-based oppression.

Every year, Sikhs in Vancouver and Surrey organize Vaisakhi parades. This past Saturday, the organizers in Surrey heralded a new beginning by inviting members of various First Nation bands to start the parade with both Sikh prayers and traditional songs and drumbeats by the Indigenous participants.

One of the banners put out by organizers read: "Happy Vaisakhi on the traditional, unceded and shared territories of the Kwantlen, Semiahmoo, Katzie, Musqueam, Kwikwetlem, Qayqayt and Tsawwassen First Nations."

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