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The Sikh Coalition Avaaz
July 13, 2019
  • Celebrate Guru Nanak 550th Anniversary at Your Gurdwara

    This November, the Sikh community will commemorate the 550th gurpurab of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. In addition to the celebrations already taking place across the United States to recognize the anniversary, the Sikh Coalition encourages sangats nationwide to host open houses at their local gurdwara.

    If your gurdwara is interested in hosting an open house between October 11th to November 15th, the Sikh Coalition will be able to provide support – including interfaith engagement, elected official engagement, law enforcement engagement, volunteer engagement, media engagement, Sikh awareness resources and seva projects – to ensure your open house is a successful event.

    This initiative is part of the Sikh Coalition’s grassroots efforts to empower sangat members nationwide to strengthen relationships with their neighbors and raise awareness of the Sikh faith, community and traditions.
  • Michigan Board of Education Approves Sikhism

    On June 11th, the Michigan Board of Education voted to approve new social studies standards, which, for the first time ever, include Sikhism. These new standards will give over 1.45 million Michigan public school students the opportunity to accurately learn about the Sikh community.

    Thanks to the collective action of nearly 400 Michigan Sikh community members, this state now joins a quickly growing list of states – including New York, New Jersey, Texas, California, Tennessee, Idaho, Colorado, Arizona and Oklahoma – that have worked with the Sikh Coalition to include accurate information about Sikhs in their public school standards. This means over 21 million students in these states - approximately 41 percent of all public school students nationwide - have an opportunity to learn about Sikhism. This is just another significant victory in the Sikh Coalition’s multi-year national campaign to raise Sikh awareness in our nation’s classrooms for generations to come.
  • Responding to Tragic Death of Six Year Old Crossing Arizona Border

    In June, the Sikh Coalition provided direct support to the parents of Gurupreet Kaur, the six-year-old girl who was tragically found dead by U.S. Border Patrol in Arizona on June 12th.

    While our organization is not legally representing anybody involved in this case, we collaborated with the mother, S. Kaur, and the father, A. Singh, to ensure that they had sufficient immigration counsel. We provided two weeks of communications consulting support in an effort to do everything possible to make sure that the media respected the family's privacy during this traumatic time.

    Ms. Kaur has been issued a notice to appear before the immigration court in New York. Mr. Singh has been in the U.S. since 2013 with a pending asylum application before the New York immigration court. Moving forward, the Sikh Coalition will step back from providing immediate support in this case as their independent immigration attorneys continue to manage appropriate next steps.
  • New Oregon Law After Attack on Sikh Community Member

    On June 19th, the Oregon State Legislature voted to pass SB 577, which streamlines data collection, expands protected classes and puts in place better penalties against criminals acting on bias and hate. This piece of legislation was supported by the Sikh Coalition and grassroots Sikh community action. The Sikh Coalition thanks Unite Oregon and other partners for their leadership and community organizing on this legislation, along with every Sikh community member and gurdwara that supported this bill.

    The legislation comes after an attacker was sentenced after pleading guilty in the January 14, 2019, assault of Harwinder Singh Dodd, a Sikh American store owner in Salem, OR. As part of his sentencing, Mr. Ramsey was ordered to attend Salem's 13th annual Sikh Day Parade and report back on what he learned. His appearance as part of his restorative justice sentencing helped raise Sikh awareness throughout the state and the Sikh Coalition was honored to support this media awareness effort.

    Click here to view photos from the Sikh Day Parade.
  • MTV & LogoTV Examine Queer Sikh Experience for Pride Month

    In June, the LGBTQ community celebrated Pride Month. The Sikh Coalition was proud to support MTV and LogoTV in bringing together Sikh LGBTQ community members for a conversation about their journeys in understanding how their faith and identities intermix. As a minority community within the greater Sikh community, LGBTQ Sikh stories have never been told in such a public manner. The panel examines the commonalities in the Sikh and queer communities, and we thank the panelists for their participation. Click here to watch the panel online.
  • Engaging Sikh Youth at Summer Camps Nationwide

    Throughout the summer, gurdwaras and sangats across the country are engaging youth at various camps and retreats. Last year, our Community Development team conducted workshops at local and regional camps across the country, and we will be continuing that momentum t, engaging with our youth community members nationally.

    At these camps, staff members will lead participants on interactive content to talk about important issues such as bullying prevention, creating elevator pitches on Sikhi and what it means to be a Kaur or Singh, as well as social justice-related workshops for our teen sangat members. We are scheduled to facilitate sessions both in the tri-state as well as the Southern California areas, and we look forward to engaging sangats in other parts of the country.

    Follow our team on social media as we begin our summer camp tour, and if your gurdwara or sangat is interested in having our team facilitate a workshop for your youth members, email us at community@sikhcoalition.org.
  • Special Sikh Presenters Training on July 20

    On July 20th, the Sikh Coalition will conduct a Sikh awareness presenter training for sangat members in Northern California, and we invite you to join us! This training will provide the skills and knowledge needed to walk into a classroom, workplace or any other public forum and deliver a Sikh awareness presentation that is accurate, informative and highly engaging.

    We are grateful to San Jose Gurdwara Khalsa School administrators for generously opening up their space for the training. This training has been successfully designed and implemented in other sangats across the country, and we are excited to be bringing it to Northern California! If you'd like to be added to the waitlist for this event, please click here and follow the directions listed.
  • Sikh Coalition Delivers Training Impacting 2,400 Employees

    In July 2018, a Sikh teen contacted the Sikh Coalition after being asked to remove his turban for a routine employment drug test at a Quest Diagnostics facility in New Jersey. After contacting Quest Diagnostics and learning more about their existing policies, the Sikh Coalition was able to work with Quest leadership to deliver Sikh awareness trainings that have impacted 2,400 staff members in the United States.

    Quest Diagnostics is one of the largest medical diagnostic companies in the U.S. and provides services to other diagnostic laboratories, hospitals and clinics. As a result of Sikh Coalition outreach, the company and its employees will have a better understanding of the Sikh articles of faith and the policies for respecting religious rights. To view photos from the training, click here.
  • Sikh Coalition Presents at Law Conferences

    On June 19th, Legal Director Amrith Kaur joined a panel at the Brigham Young University Religious Freedom Annual Review in Utah. Her discussion focused on the expansion of critical religious and racial reconciliation theories to include minority religions outside of Christianity, including Sikhism. Additionally, in late June, Amrith participated in a panel during the South Asian Bar Association Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Entitled "Challenges to Free Exercise in Immigration Detention," the panel also featured Project South, Muslim Advocates and the Immigration Defenders Law Center. The conference itself was a great place for various South Asians to connect and advance their professional development.
  • Interfaith Events in New York City

    In June, Community Development Fellow Sahej Preet Singh attended Build for Unity's interfaith prayer service at the Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, NY. During the service, he shared reflections on how communities can work together to overcome hate. This event preceded Build for Unity’s annual Brush with Kindness event, where many area youth, including Junior Sikh Coalition members, helped paint a youth community center in New York City. Build for Unity is the interfaith branch of Habitat for Humanity. Click here to view photos from the volunteer event.
  • Sikh Coalition Presents to NYC Committee on Immigration

    The Sikh Coalition presented testimony at the New York City Counsel, Committee on Immigration’s hearing on June 12th, in response to the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs’ (MOIA) annual report, which came out in March of this year. Click here to view photos from the hearing.

    Focusing the testimony on issues related to language access and cultural awareness, Legal Client & Community Services Manager Aasees Kaur presented on the importance of MOIA's continued work with community organizations to gain cultural competence. Additionally, Senior Staff Attorney Cindy Nesbit highlighted the importance of expanding language services to lesser-spoken languages in the city (including Punjabi) and in understanding communities when planning events, particularly when celebrating a community or disseminating essential information. Communities cannot be expected to attend events if they cannot do so while maintaining their articles of faith or if they believe they'll be subjected to heightened scrutiny because of their religious identity.

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