By Ali Memon
CALGARY: Several dozen Sindhis from Alberta gathered in a local community hall in Calgary this Saturday, April 18th, 2009 to celebrate their culture and heritage and to highlight the issues of Sindhi people in Sindh , Pakistan.
The first ever World Sindhi Congress (WSC) gathering in Calgary was a celebration of Sindhi culture and its values of tolerance and peace, and included an activism and human-rights education workshop.
Siraj Makhdoom, Organizer of the WSC Canada Chapter emphasized the importance of this gathering: “..we Sindhis must come together to emphasize tolerance, human rights and peace. These are Sindhi values that we must remember at this juncture of time.”
Ms. Janet Keeping, President of Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership of Calgary Chapter whose seminar titled “Mutual Understanding in a Highly Diverse Society” described her foundation’s work in promoting ethics in leadership in private and government sector. Ms. Keeping recognized that Canadian foreign policy is not always based on moral and ethical values, and she emphasized the need for Canadian Sindhis to reach out to government and civil society and highlight the situations in Pakistan.
Desmond Kary, a Human Rights Officer from the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission gave a detailed workshop on “Understanding Human Rights and Citizens Rights in Alberta”, in which he explained the procedures for filing and investigating citizens’ complaints on such issues as discrimination and denial of civil rights. Kerry distributed informative material among the audience regarding the Commissions’ scope and procedures.
In his opening speech, Dr. Saghir Shaikh, organizer of WSC USA Chapter and chief guest of the event, explained the importance of tolerance: “By understanding others we understand ourselves and by understanding ourselves we understand others.” He further added that “we must celebrate the hopeful aspects of our Nation by reaching out and getting involved in local community related activism.”
Asif Panhwar of WSC, highlighted the importance of seminars and activism in the WSC.
Other speakers include Zahid Makhdoom, a Judge in the Provincial Court of British Columbia, Fayaz Shaikh of Atlanta, Georgia, whose Sindhi-language presentation titled “Reflecting on the Essence of Sindhiyat,” included references to Sindhi Sufi poetry and underlined the value of Sindhi identity and its incorporation into day to day life.
Ms. Diane Diazen, Program Coordinator of Project Ploughshares Calgary spoke about the “Value of Peace and Non-Violence.”
All the speakers were presented appreciation certificates and Sindhi traditional scarfs (Ajraks) by the WSC.
Asim Kaghzi, a prominent Calgarian Sindhi welcomed the WSC efforts and acknowledged the individuals who helped organize the meet-up. Certificates of appreciation were also presented to Maqsood Memon, Zulfiqar Khuwaja, Nadeem Memon, Sanjay Panjwani, Asim Kaghzi and Samad Shaikh for their efforts in organizing this event.
Other Sindhis who attended the meeting included Mazhar Memon, Zarina Memon, Farida Memon, Sanam Sahito, Nawaz Panhwar, Ghulam Hussain Jamro, of Sindhi Association of North America.
Speakers condemned the increasing Talibanization in Pakistan and atrocities in Balochistan, and highlighted the importance of political outreach and regional activism by Canadian Sindhis in stopping the increasing violence and persecution of Sindhi Hindus. A dinner concluded the meeting.
Courtesy: Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, 21st April 2009