It’s been a busy year for the Sikh community in Timmins.

In January, the Gurdwara Sikh Sangat Of Timmins officially celebrated its grand opening, offering prayers and celebration to the community.

“It all felt very last minute but this next year, it will be even better,” said Kanwajit ‘Daisy’ Bains whose work helped open the temple, and she says she is busy planning for events in the coming year.

Since the temple opened, they’ve shared the first-ever Khalsa Day parade through downtown, offering up food and fun for everyone present.

The celebration marks the beginning of the Sikh way of life in 1699.

They also hosted a Diwali celebration on October 23 in Nothern College’s gym with dancers, and singers to celebrate the festival.

Diwali is celebrated by Sikhs, Hindus and Jains all over the world.

It is called the Festival of Lights and its name comes from the clay lanterns that are lit outside homes to ward off spiritual darkness.

Between celebrations, the temple has offered help to those in need, including housing for international students who have come to Timmins from India to attend Northern College.

“This is a place of comfort for them, a place of gathering and a place that feels like home,” said Bains. “If they have no place to go, this is the first place that comes to mind.”

The temple is the first of its kind in Timmins, and offers a soup kitchen where everyone is welcome, regardless of beliefs, status or race.

This soup kitchen is one of the main functions of the Gurdwara called the Langar, and many of the students who were helped by the temple are now doing a lot of the work.

“The kids are doing the cooking, they’re doing what we call selfless sevā, the volunteer work at all hours of the day,” said Bains. “They are the ones serving the food, doing the cooking, they are the ones cleaning the temple and singing the hymns and saying the prayers and everything.”

They have teamed up with Northern College to help the next cohort coming to town.

“There is scarcity for the student, so 100 of them took refuge at the temple, but we were able to find them places in a week,” said Bains. “We were told there are 300 new students coming in this semester and are we ready for them?”

“Either way we will make sure these students have a roof over their heads.”

Next year, there are plans for more celebrations and educational opportunities, especially during Sikh Heritage Month in April.

“We are going to be having displays about our Sikh history in Canada,” said Bains. “So everybody gets to know who we are, how we came about.”

Bains also said, in the coming year, she is focused on working with other communities in Timmins, especially the Indigenous communities.

“Everything happening with truth and reconciliation, we want to be part of that and I want them to be a part of what we do,” said Bains. 

By Amanda Rabski-McColl, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Dec 26, 2022