Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh
As we look back upon 2004, the Sikh panth (community) and the Sikh Coalition can reflect on a long list of important accomplishments. The last year saw the New York City Police Department ending it discrimination against Sikhs – today Amric Singh proudly serves on the streets of New York City as a traffic enforcement officer. It saw the Coalition defend Sikhs at school. When a Sikh student was told he could not be a part of his graduation ceremony unless he removed his dastaar (turban), the Coalition stepped in, rallied community support, informed the school of the student’s rights, and let the administration know that legal action that could follow unless the student could proudly graduate with his dastaar. In the workplace, the Coalition educated employers about Sikhs and reminded them of their rights in the workplace. When Harvinderbir Kaur thought she would be fired after many years of diligent work simply because she wore a kirpan, the Coalition took action to ensure she could practice her faith and still keep her job.
For each of these cases, there are dozens more that the Sikh community faces each day. Our work would not be possible without your generous support. These achievements are a testament to your moral and financial support, words of encouragement, willingness to volunteer, and honest feedback and advice.
The Sikh Coalition has made considerable strides in the three years since its inception in September of 2001. Together, we are building an institution that will serve the needs of the Sikh community in North America for generations. We have learned from other communities that without a permanent voice, we will always be on the defensive -fighting individual cases instead of systematically influencing society to end discrimination. This is critical because despite the dozens of cases the Coalition handles each year, many cases are beyond our capacity and an even larger number go unreported in our community.
We have taken many steps to institutionalize the Coalition’s work in the last year and we continue to make strategic investments to ensure that the Coalition can serve the needs of our community. I n addition to assisting individual Sikhs, we have begun a number of proactive initiatives that will have impact on educating others and protecting Sikh interests nationally, such as:
- successfully working to ensure that Sikhs are allowed to serve in the New York Police Department and Metropolitan Transit Authority.
- conducting dozens of educational presentations to thousands of students and government and law enforcement officials.
- distributing tens of thousands of brochures on Sikhs and Sikhism.
- starting the first national Sikh voter registration drive to increase civic engagement among Sikhs.
The 2004–2005 annual report describes these and a selection of our other major accomplishments, which we have achieved through the same paradigm that governs our overall approach: education, advocacy and legal protection. Through education, we help people understand Sikhs to prevent racism and discrimination; with advocacy, we ensure government policy responds to the needs of our community; and finally, through legal protection, we take action when other means have failed.
We wish to share what your help enables us to accomplish. We thank you and look forward to continuing our partnership as we collectively work for the chardi kala (high spirits) of all people.
Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ke Fateh