Dynamic. Organized. Hard-working. These are just a few of the words to describe the Sikh couple from Brampton, a municipality with one of the largest Sikh populations in Canada. Over 500,000 Sikhs live across the country, 200,000 of them in the Greater Toronto Area. Recognized for their beards, turbans and kirpans, Sikhs live by the principles they defend, including helping people in need (whether disadvantaged or oppressed), the search for justice and equality and supporting humanitarian causes. Through numerous military exploits in Europe and Asia, Sikh contingents have contributed to protecting the human rights of sovereign people. As Kulvir explains, this spirit of helping others can be seen in the Sikh community’s involvement with non-profit organizations. Furthermore, many from the community have been elected to public office. Both Kulvir and his spouse Birender studied at the University of Calgary. An acclaimed leader, Kulvir earned a diploma in biology and business administration while Birender became a chartered accountant. Since their arrival in Toronto in 2000, the couple has been volunteering with youth, families and low-income individuals.
Kulvir, Birender and their friends founded the Seva Food Bank in Mississauga. In March 2018, Canada saw over 890,000 Canadians turn to food banks across the country, and residents of metropolitan Toronto’s more affluent neighbourhoods were no exception. Kulvir argues that it is unacceptable for our children to experience hunger on a daily basis. The goal of their organization is to help residents from all backgrounds and walks of life become independent of food services and ultimately autonomous. Through the incredible commitment of five employees and 250 volunteers, the needs of 900 families, representing 17 different languages, are met every month.
Father of 6- and 8-year-old boys, Kulvir has travelled extensively for his management consulting job. Growing up in Calgary, his love of wide, open spaces is ingrained. He recounts how he visited some of the most beautiful places across our ten provinces, as well as the Yukon and Northwest Territories. He is a proud Canadian, but acknowledges that many societal challenges still exist, particularly maintaining responsible parliamentary governance and the economic vitality of rural areas. Inclusion and the respect of differences, both in terms of religion and sexual orientation, are also cause for concern. As members of a pacifist community and purveyors of values, the couple believes Canada must maintain its role as a guiding light for democracy, effective international relationships and healthy public policies. Moreover, Canadians and their elected officials must lead the way with regard to environmental governance and support Indigenous communities in their development while respecting their cultures and languages. Birender and Kulvir’s goal is to give back to the society that gave them so much. It is certain that they are well on their way!