December 6, 2013 (Fremont, CA) – This November was declared as Sikh Awareness and Appreciation month by the state legislature in California. The Sikh Coalition thanks Professor Onkar S. Bindra for spearheading this effort in conjunction with Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski. California is the only state to recognize a month-long resolution for Sikhs, and this was a perfect opportunity for California Sikhs to spread awareness about Sikhi to their neighbors. Hundreds of California Sikhs, taking inspiration from a list of projects provided by the Sikh Coalition, organized events, led presentations and engaged with the media to celebrate the month. Here are a few examples of actions taken by the community for Sikh Awareness Month:
Local Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month Proclamations and Resolutions
- Fresno Council of Governments – The Sikh Coalition thanks the Fresno Council of Governments, especially Executive Director Tony Boren and Mayor of San Joaquin Amarpreet Dhaliwal, for passing a proclamation designating November as Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month.
- City of Elk Grove – The Sikh Coalition thanks community member, Dr. Onkar Bindra, for supporting this proclamation and the Elk Grove City Council and Mayor Gary Davis for passing this it.
- City of Fresno – The Sikh Coalition thanks Mayor Ashley Swearengin and Fresno City Council Member Blong Xiong for passing this proclamation.
- City of Poway – Sevadaars at the Sikh Foundation San Diego were responsible for passing this proclamation which was issued by Mayor Donn Higginson.
- City of Rancho Cordova – The Sikh Coalition thanks community member, Dr. Onkar Bindra, for supporting this proclamation and Mayor Linda Budge for passing it.
- City of San Diego – Sevadaars at the Sikh Foundation San Diego were responsible for passing this proclamation. It was issued by Interim Mayor Todd Gloria and was presented to the sangat at the San Diego gurdwara by officials from the city Human Relations Commission.
- City of San Jose – The Sikh Coalition thanks Ash Kalra, San Jose City Councilmember, for helping pass this proclamation.
- Elk Grove Unified School District – Led by School Board Member Bobby Singh Allen and supported by community member Dr. Onkar Bindra, the Elk Grove USD passed a Sikh Awareness Resolution.
- Natomas Unified School District – Led by School Board Member Lisa Kaplan and supported by community member Dr. Onkar Bindra, the Natomas USD passed a Sikh Awareness Resolution.
- West Contra Costa Unified School District – The Sikh Coalition thanks the West Contra Costa USD for passing this Sikh Awareness resolution.
- The Sikh Coalition has mailed or hand-delivered over 700 Sikh Awareness posters to teachers, school librarians, county offices of education, police departments, etc. throughout the state.
- Sikh Coalition staff, Sikh Presenter’s Course Graduates, SikhAdvocates, and volunteers have led several presentations for Sikh Awareness Month, reaching close to 1500 teachers and students, including a presentation to over 600 students at an Elementary School in Livingston.
- All 58 County Superintendents of Education were sent information about Sikhs and how to teach Sikhism in the classroom.
- Sikh Coalition staff and advocates worked closely with Christian students at Fresno Pacific University on a four-week interfaith dialogue program.
- Sikh Coalition staff presented to a class at the Center for Sikh Studies at Claremont Lincoln University in Southern California.
- The Fresno State Punjabi Sikh Awareness Society hosted multiple events on the Fresno State campus to celebrate Sikh Awareness month including information sessions about Sikhism, turban tying, and martial arts routines.
- APAICS, the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies, sent information about the month to their member California college career centers.
- 10 library packages were hand-delivered to librarians in the Central Valley to display in their library for the month of November. Packages included children’s books, ‘The Sikhs’ brochures, Sikh Awareness posters, and other Sikh educational materials.
- The Sikh Coalition presented a two-hour workshop to the Central Valley Library Consortium, a group that consisted of the head librarians from over 35 districts, who service over 400,000 students. The Sikh Coalition gave them free Sikh resources that they have delivered to libraries in their jurisdiction.
Sikh Community Outreach
- The Sikh Coalition participated in the Sikh Women’s Alliance 5K Sojhi Walk in Fresno on November 10, organized to celebrate Sikh Awareness Month.
- The Sikh Sacramento Society participated in the Folsom Veteran’s Day Parade on November 11. Dr. Onkar Bindra created flyers that included information about U.S. Sikh veterans and Sikhs currently serving in the military and distributed them to parade attendees.
- The Sikh Council of Central California (SCCC) hosted an educator’s event in partnership with the Kerman Unified School District on November 16. The Sikh Coalition was invited to present information on how educators and librarians can celebrate Sikh Americans with their students this month. Tom Torlakson, the State Superintendent for Public Instruction, sent this letter to the SCCC for their efforts to promote Sikh awareness.
- Central Valley Law Enforcement Personnel – The Sikh Coalition hosted a two-hour training on Sikhs and protocol to follow when interacting with Sikhs who carry articles of faith. Representatives from the following departments attended the training: Fresno Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Fresno Sheriff’s Office, Fresno City College, Community Regional Medical Center, Madera Sheriff’s Office, Tulare Sheriff’s Office and Police Department, Kerman Police Department, Selma Police Department, and Lemoore Police Department. The Sikh Coalition would like to thank Lieutenant Tom Laband for organizing this training.
- Fresno City College Police Academy – The Sikh Coalition presented information about Sikhism and Sikh Americans to 50 cadets at the police academy who, after graduating, will pursue careers in neighboring police departments. The Sikh Coalition would like to thank Director Richard Lindstrom for organizing this training.
- APAICS sent information about Sikh Awareness Month to their press team at the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC),consisting of over 40 Members.
- Congreswoman Nancy Pelosi tweeted her support for Sikh Awareness Month to over 400,000 of her followers.
Do you want to follow California’s lead and spread awareness and respect for Sikhs in your city? Check out our Sikh Awareness Month page and ourCommunity Resources page, pick a project, and go! Need help? Just email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll be happy to answer any questions that you have. “The Sikh Coalition materials, adopted by California’s Commission on Peace Officer’s Standards and Training (POST), and presentations are very well done and very informative. All law enforcement agencies can benefit from this very informative training. We look forward to hosting another session with you in the future!”
-Lt. Tom Laband, Fresno Police Department.