B.C. Premier John Horgan announced $1 million for upgrades to the historic Topaz Gurdwara of the Khalsa Diwan Society on Sunday. (Facebook/John Horgan)

Premier announces funding for upgrades to Victoria-based Sikh Gurdwara

Announcement made from Khalsa Diwan Society temple on Vaisakhi

In honour of Vaisakhi, premier John Horgan announced $1 million in funding for the historic Victoria-based Sikh Gurdwara on Sunday.

The Gurdwara – a Victoria-based Sikh temple on Topaz Avenue – was designed in 1912 for the Khalsa Diwan Society (KDS), pioneers of the city’s original Sikh community. It is one of the two oldest operating Gurdwaras in North America and members say it is in need of repairs and upgrades to meet the needs of its growing and aging community.

When it opened in 1912, the temple had approximately 100 members, and now welcomes approximately 4,000.

The provincial funding will go towards accessibility, kitchen facility and safety upgrades.

“The historic Topaz Sikh Gurdwara is an important part of the Greater Victoria community and provides a welcoming place for people of all faiths,” said Horgan. “”In the spirit of Vaisakhi and the Sikh practice of sewa, or selfless community service, this funding will allow the temple to make much-needed upgrades so that it can keep serving thousands of people each year.”

The KDS temple acts a hub for community gatherings, celebrations and prayer services, as well as providing regular vegetarian lunches to thousands of people each year and more than 600 meals to Victoria’s people in need every weekend.

READ ALSO: B.C. legislature celebrates Sikh holiday for first time

While over 300 seniors attend the temple on a regular basis, it’s also an important place for youth to connect with their culture and community.

“The Sikh Khalsa Diwan Society has been providing services to people in Greater Victoria for more than 100 years and we want to help them continue to reach out to everyone,” said Rob Fleming, MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake. “The Gurdwara is in dire need of upgrades to the facilities and this grant will improve accessibility and ensure it can continue to welcome people from Victoria and around the world.”

The funding comes after KDS submitted a proposal for one-time grant funding from the province’s 2018-19 contingency grants for infrastructure projects in four seperate B.C. municipalities.

Vaisakhi is a historic and religious day celebrated in Sikhism every year on April 13 or 14. It celebrates the show of faith from five followers of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, who were baptised and declared the first members of the Khalsa in 1699.

READ ALSO: Victoria celebrates Khalsa Day with parade, festivities

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