• James Armstrong

Sikh community plants trees to celebrate 550th anniversary and save the planet


With shovels in hand, members of the Sikh community joined forces with MP Peter Schiefke (yellow raincoat) and Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon (left of tree) to plant trees to save the environment and celebrate an historical birthday.

The Sikh community of Vaudreuil-Dorion, along with Sikhs around the world, is marking the 550th anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of their faith, by planting trees.

“We are planting 25 trees in Vaudreuil-Dorion, here in Bellini Park,” said Tree Planting Project Chairperson Kulbir Kaur Ahuja. As a resident of Vaudreuil-Dorion for more than 30 years, Ahuja said she was happy to be involved in planning an activity that not only celebrated a birthday but would also have a positive environmental impact locally. The 25 trees in Bellini Park are part of the 550 trees that will be planted in municipal parks in Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, and Toronto.

Tree planting and Inter-faith conference

“The overall project is one million trees around the world,” said Dr. Harinder P.S. Ahluwalia who is chairing a two-day inter-faith conference at McGill University on October 4 and 5 at the Birks Chapel of the School of Religious Studies. A series of speakers have been invited to present papers on Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and Sikhism. The conference will conclude with a banquet on October 4.

“This is an incredible initiative,” said Federal Member of Parliament Peter Schiefke who helped plant the trees on Saturday, September 14. “I’m really appreciative of the City of Vaudreuil-Dorion and the Sikh community for funding this project and putting in the energy to make sure it becomes a reality.”

Joint project with Vaudreuil-Dorion

The tree-planting project was a joint effort of the Sikh community with the city of Vaudreuil-Dorion.

“They came to us with the project in April,” said Mayor Guy Pilon as he set aside his shovel for a moment. “They purchased the trees and some of them cost close to $500 each,” he noted. The city got on board with the project by providing equipment and people to dig the holes for the trees. “It’s a good sign for our community,” Pilon said. “If there are other groups who want to do this, that would be great. I’m very happy with the result.”

Species chosen for urban forest

Seven species of trees were chosen for the site.

“It’s an effort to create diversity in the urban forest,” said Patrick Legault, Supervisor for the city’s Urban Forest and Horticulture Department. Pear trees, Japanese Lilacs, Ginkgo Biloba and three conifers made up the selection species.

In addition to being one of the greatest philosophers, Guru Nanak is also considered as an environmentalist of his time.

“He cared about the Earth, the water, and the air,” said Ahluwalia. The Guru Nanak, born in 1469, espoused the universal message of brotherhood, equality, acceptance, inclusivity, and respect for humanity at a time when such values were not universally acclaimed.

The importance of planting trees was not lost on five-year-old Ravya Ahuja who was energetically raking the top-soil into place around the freshly planted trees.

“They make oxygen,” she told Schiefke when he asked her why the trees were being planted.

For further information regarding the conference, contact Dr. Harinder P.S. Ahluwalia by e-mail at ha@info-electronics.com or by telephone at (514) 497-8658.

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