The founding of the first Khalsa school in Vancouver, in the mid-eighties was a landmark in the history of the Sikhs in Canada. The author served as its first Sikh heritage teacher. Talks given by him in the gurdwara and lectures given to the inter-faith meetings earned appreciation both from Sikhs and non-Sikhs.
One day, while I was busy with my class, a local T.V. crew came there and the reporter said to me, "I am from BCTV and I want to talk to you." I answered, "You are welcome." They entered the room and set up their gadgets quickly. Here is a brief description of the dialogue as recorded by the T.V. crew under the full glare of the camera lights and the children watching us:
Reporter : By starting the Khalsa school, you have put the clock of your people back by one generation ...
While shooting these words upon me, her questioning eyes and aggressive attitude seemed to label me as a sort of criminal for doing something wrong to the Canadian children. I was accustomed to reading good words about me, the Sikhs and the school. Hearing negative and damaging comments, and those too from a reporter, I was taken aback for a moment. Though I was not sure what was in her mind, I composed myself and responded by using her own words.
Author : Madam, the Canadian clock is out of order. The Khalsa school has been founded to put it in order.
I noticed a change in her aggressive looks and she explained her statement.
Reporter : What I mean is that the first generation of your community did not mix with the Canadians. Your second generation was learning Canadian culture along with other children in the government schools. By taking them out from there, and admitting them in the Khalsa school, you have put the clock of your people back by one generation. They will grow as Indians and miss the Canadian culture. Therefore, they will remain separate for another generation.
Her changed expression soothed my nerves and I explained my statement with full confidence.
Author : What I meant was that most of the Canadians, not just you alone, believe that the world ends, where the Canadian boundary ends. You do not accept the people living across the border (Americans) as your own; you treat them as being different, aliens.
The world has not forgotten recent history. Americans bombed Vietnamese believing them to be different and not members of their own race. They killed hundreds of thousands of people who had not committed any fault or crime. By this they orphaned many children. Thousands of Americans did not return alive, orphaning their own children.
At the Khalsa School, I teach the students that all people in the east or the west, believers or non-believers, black or white, are God's children, hence equal. The earth is their common inheritance. We are a garden of human beings nursed by God. In a garden, every flower, whatever its color or shape, adds to the beauty of the garden. Similarly, each ethnic group, whatever its color or culture, makes the human garden more refreshing, attractive and pleasing. We must realize this in order to live in peace and enjoy the gifts of God. Everyone of us is a member of His family. Of course, the language and culture vary depending upon the region in which people are born, and this adds to the beauty of the world.
Reporter: Her face revealing her satisfaction and her surprise. This really is great. I agree with you. I did not know this earlier. Thanks for talking to us.
Author: Well, these students (of the Khalsa school) have been taught to carry not the guns, but the fruit of goodwill for the people wherever they go and enjoy their love and affection. The guiding clock of the Sikh faith is that humanity is one big family of the Lord.
Reporter : Sure, you are setting the clock right, thanks.
Author : Will you be bold enough to report this on T.V. what you have said to me?
Reporter : You watch the evening news at 6.00 P.M.
She said this with a smile and in an assuring tone, while going out of the door. The author who watched the evening news did hear the above statement. This was a great relief to me. Many friends who listened to the news bulletin added to my satisfaction when they called me to appreciate my dialogue with the reporter.