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Youth win board leadership of Canadian Sikh temple

November 23, 2009

Here at SAPP, we’ve spent some time talking about board service at charitable organizations – for example, at the SAALT Summit here.  We’ve also talked about religious giving and how this is one of the main areas of charitable giving among South Asians in North America – for example, from Ramya here.

(c/o Globe and Mail)

Well, here’s a story that brings those two threads together – and from my new home country of Canada!  The Globe & Mail reported last week on the front page that Gursimran Kaur, a 19-year-old Canadian Sikh, and a slate of 18 other young Sikhs (mostly in their 30’s) won a contentious election to board leadership at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara temple in Surrey, B.C., one of North America’s largest Sikh temples.

A few interesting things…  The youth candidates ran on a platform of returning to traditional Sikh customs at the temple, plus a focus on women’s rights and youth programs.  I thought it was intriguing that the young candidates committed to a more traditional agenda – while at the same time raising “progressive” issues such as women’s rights and combating domestic violence and youth gang activity.

As far as the areas they’ve identified for the gurdwara to take an active role, these include:  programs to combat drug use and gang violence; workshops on Sikh scripture and rituals in English to appeal to the younger generation; new community services programs at the temple; a safe-house for women; and, workshops on violence against women and on women’s rights.

I will be curious to see how the young slate of directors does on the job – Will fundraising go up?  Will the group use new technologies to raise money and volunteers?  Will more young people be inspired to get involved?

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