Gurinder Kaur: Westfield Local Heroes 2019
Taking interfaith tolerance to the next level
Khalsa Education Society
Passionate. Selfless. Committed
Gurinder Kaur is a proud Sikh and just wants everyone to get along without misunderstanding each others’ culture and traditions.
As a volunteer with the Khalsa Education Society, she promotes cultural harmony and interfaith solidarity by visiting schools and workplaces to familiarise people with the turban Sikhs wear to represent equality.
The program helps to break down stereotypes and misconceptions that sometimes lead to bullying of Sikh children, Gurinder says.
“Sometimes there can be a negative association between turbans and terrorism.”
One of the society’s innovations is to run turban tying stalls, where non-Sikhs can try on a turban and get to know more about the religion.
Gurinder is over the moon about being voted a Westfield Local Hero for work that is part of her identity. “I grew up with a culture of sarbat da bhala, which in Punjabi means wellbeing of all,” she says. “I was raised to care about the people around you without any judgment. They are like my extended family, my brothers and sisters.”
Gurinder has been going above and beyond in her efforts to help her local community since arriving in Australia in 2006. Despite a full-time job as a business analyst, she never turns down a request to support local projects, such as getting involved in the Whittlesea Relay for Life to support cancer research.
Taking the lead, she encouraged many in the Sikh and Indian community to take part.
“I am very passionate about giving back to the community,” says Gurinder.
“But in my Punjabi community, there are still a lot of people who don’t
know about community work. I believe my recognition will motivate the younger generation and the Punjabi community to come forward.”
Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation.
The Khalsa Society will use its grant to reach out to more schools and develop educational material, such as videos and leaflets.
“It will help increase awareness of the Sikh community and create better relationships,” says Gurinder.
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.