“My definition of being Kaur is always evolving and transforming. As life evolves and I grow, I am challenged and things change. Sometimes being a Kaur means love, compassion, gracefulness or softness. Sometimes it means strength, resilience, being loud, and not accepting no.
Really though, I didn’t grasp the religious side of being a Kaur until later in life. I didn’t understand why women were treated differently in our community and how unfair it was. I always felt there was a lack of equality and that wasn’t right. I could sense it, but I couldn't articulate what exactly it was.
In my teenager years, I discovered poetry by Maya Angelou, listened to music by Nas and Tupac and read things written by philosopher and author Cornel West. I was drawn to what they had to say about revolution, inequality, and injustice and despite being a brown woman in a completely different community, I could draw upon the feelings they outlined.
I remember many small examples of how I was viewed as being inferior or weak because I was a woman. One instance was the need of a man to help me renovate my room because the thought of me, a woman, being capable to do it on my own was unfathomable. Another was a constant critique to lower my voice, not to laugh so loud, tie my hair back, or behave in submissive ways. This is not something men face. They are encouraged to speak louder, try harder, be aggressive, and shine as brightly as possible.
It was a struggle and a challenge to constantly hit a glass ceiling. There was an unspoken rule; let your light shine bright, but not brighter than the men counterparts. Or do what you want, but there is an unwavering expectation that many womanly roles be fulfilled before you attempt or ask for more. For me it was important to challenge the status quo of being a Kaur, as a woman, challenge the workplace, attempt to break through the glass ceiling.
It was then that I made an effort to volunteer at local and national levels and help others challenge the status quo and expectations. I volunteered with soup kitchen organizations and worked with women’s shelters, and helped new immigrants learn how to get a library card or take a bus. I was always drawn to this type of work. I think it started out from an individualistic perspective of what could I gain from volunteering. I think it was a way for me to find justice, to somehow make sense of the lack of inequality I felt in my community.
Since then, I have learned so many life lessons. Most of all is the idea of love. I have firsthand seen many people enduring worse experiences than me, but are still able to express everything with love. It puts everything into perspective. As I have grown, I have found success and contentment within my community through my work and volunteerism.
A few years ago, I was recognized as one of Amnesty International’s top 40 Canadians, 25 and under. I have continued my work with Amnesty International and now sit on the nominations board of the Canadian chapter. I also believe my need to find justice and equality for myself and others, led me to working with the RCMP in my city.
Through my community work, I realized the confirmation of equality I was looking form others, was something I had to find by myself, within myself. Really it came in the form of loving and accepting myself. I think this is a hard lesson to learn and practice as a woman; to love yourself. As you get older, you experience more and you see it is greater than your family and your culture. You want to challenge the status quo, to stick your neck out, take chances, and fight the fear of failing.
I think it goes back to the realization that being a Kaur is not black and white. You can look at history, and current affairs, even the women around you, we all are different and unique. Overall there is an opportunity to always grow and discover yourself. I think it’s important to use the word Kaur as a foundation to learn more about yourself, to go with it, and really challenge what the word means to you, as you evolve and change as well."