Gurpreet Singh: Sikh activist sets example by dedicating her birthday to residential school survivors

Dupinder Kaur Saran is encouraging fellow Sikhs to make donations to support reconciliation

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      Dupinder Kaur Saran could have asked for anything as a gift from her friends this past week. After all, it was her birthday on July 6.

      Being a well-known public figure within the Sikh community of Greater Vancouver, the registered nurse and former Surrey school board candidate would have received bouquets and presents. But instead, she urged all of her friends on Facebook to donate money to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.

      She has set a target of $5,000 for two weeks and has raised more than $1,200 as of this writing. The amount is likely to go up because of her huge following.

      Saran told Straight that celebrations can always wait, but in the current situation she thought of sharing the grief of Indigenous peoples. They are in mourning over unmarked graves of the children who became victims of the residential school system. More than 1,000 such remains have been found over the past one month across Canada.

      “We must be thankful to the Indigenous peoples for letting the immigrants make Canada their home,” she said. “It’s time to give back and that’s one way we could do this—by supporting a society that is helping out those suffering intergenerational trauma because of the residential schools”.

      Saran was also instrumental behind the vigil held outside Surrey City Hall on June 4 for the 215 indigenous children whose remains were found in Kamloops.

      Dupinder Kaur Saran has been trying to raise awareness about the impact of Indian government laws on farmers' livelihoods.
      Gurpreet Singh

      Activist for farmers

      Saran has also been a part of demonstrations that were held across Lower Mainland in support of the Indian farmers who have been camping outside New Delhi since November, 2020. The Indian farmers are fighting for the repeal of controversial farm laws passed by the right-wing Hindu nationalist government.

      They believe that these laws are going to threaten their livelihood and have been adopted without much debate and consultations.

      Even otherwise, Saran is active and vocal on many other issues affecting her community, such as racism and the exploitation of foreign students. She also volunteers for the Guru Nanak Free Kitchen, which serves meals to the poor and marginalized in Downtown Eastside and has sent out food to the survivors of Lytton wildfire.

      Notably, the Lytton tragedy has greatly impacted First Nations people in the area.

      Gurpreet Singh is cofounder of Radical Desi magazine and Indians Abroad for Pluralist India. He's the author of Why Mewa Singh Killed William Hopkinson: Revisiting the Murder of a Canadian Immigration Inspector and Fighting Hatred With Love: Voices of the Air India Victims' Families. Both were published by Chetna Parkashan. The Georgia Straight publishes opinions like this from the community to encourage constructive debate on important issues.