ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਕਾ ਖਾਲਸਾ, ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਕੀ ਫ਼ਤਿਹ
On August 12, 2019, I will be stepping down as the Executive Director of the World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) as I move on to a new endeavour.
Writing this farewell letter has brought about a lot of personal reflection on my time with the WSO, and not just on my term as the Executive Director, but also the previous 7 years I have spent with the Organization in various capacities.
I still remember sheepishly approaching the WSO’s legal counsel and spokesperson, Balpreet Singh, back in 2012 inquiring about any volunteer opportunities. I was a recent law school graduate, and I wanted to give back - WSO seemed like the natural fit with its stellar legal pedigree, and community advocacy success. Unbeknownst to me at the time, this simple act would be one of the most transformational decisions of my life.
The past year, though, has easily been the most fun I have ever had working in the Organization.
The WSO has been going through a serious transition over the last five-plus years, and I had the honour of seeing that finalized this term with our President, Mukhbir Singh, and a group of exceptional executives and board of directors. Today, our thirty person national board is gender balanced, and largely under the age of forty, making it truly reflective of the second generation of Sikh Canadians.
I also got to work with the likes of Gurpreet Kaur and Bikaram Singh, two young board members in British Columbia, in launching our national Sikh Mentorship Program which has matched over a hundred mentors and mentees across various industries and hosted multiple professional networking events in both BC and Ontario.
I had the privilege of watching Kirpa Kaur take the Sikh Youth Leadership Institute to new heights as she refined what Tejinder Singh, Harman Singh, and I developed in 2015 into the premier Sikh leadership development program in Canada today.
Advocacy campaigns are always a challenge, and I was able to closely witness Balpreet Singh and the entire team jump into action to not only expedite the Afghan Sikh refugee file, or push back on the baffling inclusion of Sikhs in the 2018 Public Safety Canada Terror Report, but also work with Amrit Kaur in Quebec as we continue to join multiple organizations in fighting Bill 21.
I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to work with an amazing team in continuing to build the premier national third-party advocacy group for Sikh Canadians.
Canada seems much smaller now than it did as a boy growing up in Brampton. The community is as robust and proud as it has ever been, and it is only getting better. The Sikh community today is sophisticated and mobilized, and I am confident in its youth. Most of all, I am confident in the WSO and its ability to continue to promote and protect the interest of Sikh Canadians today and well into the future.
While I am stepping down from my role as Executive Director, I remain committed to the WSO and the Sikh Canadian community and will continue to be part of the WSO team as a board member and volunteer.
Thank you all once again, it is only with your support that we have been able to achieve as much as we have over the past year and our 35 year history.
Jaskaran Singh Sandhu