Edmontonians are taking a disturbing incident and turning it into an opportunity for education and awareness.
“In response to the current event that happened at the University of Alberta, the Sikh Students Association/Students Union/World Sikh Organization present to you Turban Eh! Come say hi and get your Turban Tied,” Gurjot Sandhu posted on Facebook.
The event is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 27 at the U of A Students Union Building stage from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
On Monday, at least 12 racist posters were found on the University of Alberta campus. As soon as the school became aware of the posters, campus security took them down. The university president condemned the act, and said the school was investigating who was responsible.
“This particular act has made me very angry,” David Turpin said. “This is not the University of Alberta that we know and we’ll continue to work with our student leaders to ensure this is a safe and welcoming environment for students around the world.”
While many were shocked by the initial act, there has been a up-swell of support for the Sikh community and positive response in its wake.
“We’ve seen a huge outpouring of support from the community, the U of A community and the ethnic community at large,” Arundeep Singh Sandhu, a spokesperson for the World Sikh Organization, said on Tuesday. “Even the prime minister has come out against it, the mayor, as well as of course everyday Edmontonians and Canadians have come out against it.”
New, supportive versions of the posters also started appearing on campus, with messages like “Rock Your Turban” and “Funk Your Turban.”
Tuesday’s event is a way to continue the conversation and allow anyone to learn about the significance of the turban.
“The name ‘Sikh’ actually means ‘to learn’ in Punjabi. A Sikh is a student,” Sandhu explained. “So, I thought the best response to this would be education.”
“The people who put up these posters gave their views and their side of the argument and we’re going to give our counterpoint,” he added. “We’re going to be wrapping turbans on students at the U of A. While this is happening, they’ll be able to ask questions.”
Free books will also be available that explain more about Sikh history in Canada and the significance of the turban.
“Jewish people have their Yamakas, the Pope covers his head … It’s out of respect for God.
“One big part of Sikhism is uplifting a lot of people and eliminating the caste system and other barriers in society. It was about uplifting women and other people who were persecuted and fighting injustice,” he added. “Part of it is it creates a very visible identity; it creates an obligation to act for Sikhs. People know who we are if we don’t act they know that we’re not living up to our own teachings.”