Sikh community delivers Valentine's Day care packages to women's shelters

Sukhman Kaur of the World Sikh Organization, is part of the One Billion Rising campaign, which provides resources and support to victims of domestic violence by sending Valentine’s Day care packages to women’s shelters.

Every year, Sikhs across Canada mark Valentine’s day by delivering care packages to women’s shelters.

It’s a gesture of love aimed at victims of domestic violence and abuse.

“When somebody opens this package, I hope that they realize that somebody loves and supports them,” said Sukhman Kaur of the World Sikh Organization.

“We do this campaign locally to support local women, so that they feel that somebody loves and supports them, at this time of year when everybody is celebrating love with their loved ones.”

The campaign is called One Billion Rising.

“It’s based on the statistic that one in three women across the world are victims of domestic violence or abuse,” Kaur said. She wants Calgary women to know, even if they’re feeling alone, the community is there for them.

“There are people out in the community, there’s resources out for them, to use, to help them uplift themselves out of that situation,” she said.

“Or to get access to resources, to counselling, to workshops, that can hopefully elevate the situation in their home. And just to remind them that this isn’t the end of your life.”

The care packages include everything from chocolates to bus tickets, shampoo and toothbrushes. Each package contains a list of resources that can help the vulnerable women, including financial resources and help lines.

Local schoolchildren prepared Valentine’s cards for the packages, and volunteers assembled them at Punjabi Community Health Services in northeast Calgary.

The campaign started in 2012 and is a partnership between the World Sikh Organization of Canada and Sikh communities across Canada. This year the event is also being marked in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Edmonton and Vancouver.

“It’s a wonderful, creative way to celebrate the day of love,” Kaur said. “At this time of year, if things aren’t going too well for you, there are things you can do, and the community is remembering you.”