John Horgan announcing $1-million in funding to the Topaz Gurdwara Sunday

John Horgan announcing $1-million in funding to the Topaz Gurdwara Sunday, with the minister of finance Carole James (Right) and minister of agriculture Lana Popham (Left)

B.C. Premier John Horgan was at a Sikh Gurdwara on Topaz Street in Victoria Sunday, to announce funding for the temple during annual Vaisakhi celebrations.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing will be providing a grant for $1-million to the Sikh Khalsa Diwan Society to help with accessibility and kitchen facility upgrades at the temple.

Horgan said the Gurdwara plays a vital role in the community

“It’s the notion of service that stands out most in my mind when I think about the Sikh community,  [and] when I think of the work this Gurdwara has done over many many years,” Horgan said to those gathered at the temple Sunday.

“I’m proud to announce that one million dollars will be available for improvements here… so that you can continue to serve the people here, [and] not just the Gurdwara but all of Victoria.”

The province says the temple provides a place for people to gather for community celebrations and prayer services and also serves vegetarian lunches to thousands of people of all religions, cultures and nationalities throughout the year.

Those who follow no faith are welcome at Gurdwaras.

It first opened in 1912 and is one of the oldest operating in North America, but requires upgrades to meet modern accessibility standards and the needs of a growing and aging population.

More than 600 meals are served free of charge to people in need in downtown Victoria each weekend by the Gurdwara.

Children, youth and more than 300 seniors also attend the temple regularly.

Vaisakhi celebrations come from a harvest festival in India’s Punjab region hundreds of years ago, and is of special significance to Sikhs.

Celebrations usually take place on either the 13th or 14th of April.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also took part in the celebrations, walking in Vancouver’s Vaisakhi parade.

The province is home to one of the largest Sikh populations outside of India.

The temple was filled on the major Sikh celebration

The temple was filled, during the major Sikh celebration

With files from the CBC

Julian Kolsut