“The concept of Kaur represents a connection to my childhood. When I look or think back, there was more of an attachment to Kaur with the ritual of attending the gurudwara. I remember constantly asking my parents questions, like why we went and why we performed certain rituals. They were pretty good at answering questions and did their best to teach us about the Gurus and their messages.
I grew up in the Okanagan and my parents encouraged learning about religion that extended beyond Sikhism. To them all religion was good and respected people connected in their own ways.
As an adult now, the connection to rituals that meant so much to me before, doesn’t hold the same weight. I think of god as a bigger entity, meaning the concept is everywhere. I hold myself at a higher accountability of my actions and their impact on others. My focus is not really on the small details, but the bigger picture of Sikhism.
Growing up in the Okanagan for me was simple and not difficult, even though there weren’t many kids of colour. However, my brother who is two years younger than me experienced racism overtly through hockey and being viewed as different. My own run ins with racism were limited and not so obvious to me. I recall being in grade one and hanging out with four other kids and a little boy pointing out I was different. As he spoke the words I was brown and everyone else was white, I was shocked. Sadly, I tried to rub the brown away. I went home and questioned my parents as to why they didn’t tell me I was different. The conversation stayed with me, it connected me to my brother’s experiences and it didn’t reduce the sting of hearing racist names. I can say now, that I was somewhat oblivious to racism and perhaps people’s attitudes. My own awakening to racism and the impact didn’t come till much later in life.
I am a daughter, sister, an aunt and friend. I am an advocate and I am also a survivor. I was abused as a child by family friends of ours. The trauma occurred for three to four years and ended when I was seven years old.
During the time of the abuse and once the memories resurfaced, I would describe that time as dark and isolating. The impact of the abuse led me to try to deflect attention from myself and I would often repress my feelings.
I think back now about a time in grade school, where we had presenters visit our class about sexual abuse and good/bad touching. After the presentation they asked us to write yes or no on whether we had experienced bad touching. At the time this was an opportunity for adults to help me when I initially answered yes. However, their line of questions was alienating and traumatizing, it lead me to retract and say no. This is a part of the silencing of abuse that happens. People/professionals need to believe and support kids when they share trauma.
My memories were repressed and I didn’t recall what had happened till I was in high school. This is when I told my parents and they believed me and supported me. I was lucky for their support but it was scary for my parents. They did their best to support me and I spent nearly 15 years in therapy for healing.
As an advocate for survivors, my focus is to help people feel empowered, to let go of the blame, the guilt and the feelings of isolation. I remember how those emotions impacted me.
We live in a shame/blame based culture that finds fault in victims. I remember writing my survivor story in an article and having a woman tell me I should have waited until I found a suitable mate and had asked potential in-laws before I shared my story.
I encourage others who have experienced trauma to tell someone, at least one person, share your story and don’t keep it inside you. It’s one of the first stages to healing. The experiences I went through, the trauma and all the feelings associated with it made things harder, made life difficult but it has made me appreciate and love life and what I have that much more. I know I’m not responsible for what happened, it was never my fault, and now as an advocate I have the ability to possibly ease someone else’s trauma.”