Sikh runners to raise funds for hospitals across Canada

THE true spirit of Sikh sewa was on display as young gusty Sikh runners entered Halifax for their onward run to Vancouve...

Jagpal Singh Tiwana writes from Halifax

THE true spirit of Sikh sewa [service] on display as young gusty Sikh runners entered Halifax for their onward run to Vancouver to collect one lakh dollars for ten hospitals in Canada.

THE GGSCF (Guru Gobind Singh Children's Foundation) was established by children and youth in 1999 as a way to celebrate the 300th Anniversary of the Khalsa.  This is their 10th anniversary. They are celebrating it by running across Canada from St. John’s to Vancouver to raise funds for hospitals in all the ten provinces of Canada. They plan to donate about $10,000 to each hospital. Halifax’s Children hospital, the IWK is on their list. IWK is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

The origin of the youth group was in Scarborough Gurdwara, 1993.  They took up the initiative to establish the foundation when a 50km charity relay run-a-thon was organized for the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. It was then repeated in 1997 in support of the Canadian Cancer Society. The spirit from this run led them to set up a foundation; they decided to launch it with the celebrations of the 300th anniversary of the Khalsa in 1999. In July, 1999 the youth and their parents completed the relay run that started at Dixie Gurdwara, Mississauga, Canada and finished on the steps of Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

More information can be found on their web site.

On July 1st the Eastern team started from St. John's, Newfoundland with Ardas and Guru's blessing at the local Gurdwara. After running four days on the Canadian highway they arrived at our Gurdwara in Halifax on the evening of July 4th. When they came out of their vehicles wearing their colorful uniforms, the local Sangat was overwhelmed.  They were eager to take the runners to their houses. Each family wanted to take three to four youngsters. Some families were disappointed as 26 youngsters were quickly spoken for.  Four adults preferred to stay in the Gurdwara.

On July 5th, in the regular Gurdwara Diwan, Jagpal Singh Tiwana, President of the Maritime Sikh Society, welcomed the thirty guests from Toronto and praised their true Sikhi spirit of helping all irrespective color, caste or religion inspired by the famous lines of the tenth master, Guru Gobind Singh, "Manush ki Zaat sabhe eko pehchanbo", Know all mankind as one race. Money donated to Canadian hospitals will be used in the treatment for all.

Local Halifax -Citadel NDP MLA Leonard Preyra brought greetings from his party. Originally from Mumbai, Preyra spoke briefly about his fond memories of his associations with the Sikh sportsmen in his youth, their hospitality, and his admiration for Sikh community in general.

On behalf of the Halifax Sangat Sureet Kang, a grade 11 student presented a cheque of $2,000 to Gagan Deep, a representative of the running team. Gagan Deep of GGSCF donated $5000 to Mr. Shiv Sadhu, a representative of the IWK hospital and promised to pay $5000 more when they receive more donations from Quebec and Ontario

Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly commended the tremendous efforts of the students in raising funds for Canadian hospitals and presented them with a certificate of appreciation on behalf of Halifax Regional Municipality.

It was a delight to see students reciting shabads, doing Ardas, and presenting us with a slide show of their starting ceremony in St. John's, Newfoundland on July 1st.

The Halifax Gurdwara Sangat sent them off with water bottles and food for their use on the way. When they parted many in the Sangat had tears in their eyes. Tears of gratitude indeed!

[The writer is President Maritime Sikh Society Halifax, Canada]

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