After Baisakhi celebrations in the Ontario legislative assembly of Canada, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has heaped praise on province’s lesbian premier Kathleen Wynne whom it had denied a ‘siropa’ (robe of honour) at the Golden Temple earlier this year.
“We can call it a historic day for Sikhs, as it was for the first time that Baisakhi was celebrated and the ‘parkash’ of Guru Granth Sahib was done in the Ontario assembly. It was also for the first time that the Sikh community’s saffron flag, Nishan Sahib, was hoisted atop the assembly building,” SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar stated here on Wednesday.
Wynee and her cabinet colleagues had joined Sikhs in performing ‘kirtan’ in the Ontario assembly. Dressed in ‘salwar-kameez’ and with her head covered, she had praised Sikhs for integrating into Canada’s multi-cultural society while maintaining their cultural identity. In her address later, the premier said she was happy that Sikh scripture had been brought to the legislative assembly for the first time, and hoped that it would happen more often.
Wynne, who has never hidden her lesbian status, was unpopular among Sikhs for her pro- gay policies and strict laws on immigration. Her visit to the Golden Temple in February started to give her acceptability in the Sikh community of her state. She had found the shrine to be “a beautiful and serene place” and said she was “overwhelmed by the sense of volunteerism there”.
The SGPC chief said at the Golden Temple, Wynee had been brief about the Sikh customs, traditions, religious symbols, and their importance. The visit had turned controversial when Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh, head of Sikh faith’s highest temporal seat, had declined to honour her with a customary ‘siropa’ owing to her views on same-sex marriages, which Sikhism prohibits. The SGPC took a cue, and though she received a model of the Golden Temple along with a set of books on Sikh religion and history at the shrine, she didn’t receive any official robe of honour.
Makkar also appreciated the Wynee’s asking her party legislator Vic Dhillon to move a motion in the assembly on the Komagata Maru incident of 1914, through which the assembly will tender an apology for it and ensure that no immigrant is ever discriminated in Canada. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Tudeau had only a few days ago apologised for the Komagata Maru incident.