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Sikh voices on Climate Change at PowerShift 2012

Sikh voices on Climate Change at PowerShift 2012
Gurpreet Singh Dipak presented on Sikh faith based perspectives on climate change and represented Ecosikh at Powershift 2012 (www.wearepowershift.ca), an environmental, youth led conference on climate justice held in Ottawa, Canada over the 26-29 of October. Powershift 2012 brought together over a 1000 youth from all across Canada with the purpose to raise awareness, educate and take action on the variety of issues encompassing the environmental movement.  There were many welcomes, acknowledgement and gratitude to all that came out to participate especially including the indigenous First Nations delegates which Gurpreet believes we as (Sikh) environmentalists should all recognize and ally with.  The conference consisted of keynote speakers, practical skills workshops and information panels upon which Gurpreet sat on the latter.
The panel which Gurpreet spoke on with two members of the Christian community was titled “Faith-based perspectives on climate change” and brought my lived experiences from Sikhi and my environmentalism together to narrate a cautionary reminder that we, Sikhs and non-Sikhs need to examine our Gurbani (scripture) and return to our roots as stewards and in fact, guardians for the environment.
If one examines Gurbani, one can find many examples of passages including elements of nature and the environment.  Perhaps the most common heard passage is: “Pavan guru paani pita, maata dhart mahat …” which translated results to the effect of “Air is our teacher, Water our father, And the Great Earth our mother …” it is attributed to the first Sikh, Guru Nanak and is found in Japji Sahib’s epilogue.  Gurpreet proposed and shared at the conference that this passage holds great importance not only in its positioning within Sikhi’s first morning prayer but also because of how it contains the elements that sustain life and create life.
It is our duty as men, women, fathers and mothers to defend the purity and sanctity of air, water and the Great Earth! It is therefore necessary to reflect on what we often hear in our everyday nitnem (prayers) and remind ourselves of how our environmental interactions and actions in everyday life reflect how closely we may or may not be actually listening to our Guru’s message.