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Photos: Saji Kaur Sahota

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Beautiful Lives - V:
Lily Kaur,
Advocate -
The Kaur Project

THE KAUR PROJECT

 

 

 





LILY KAUR


The word ‘Kaur’ is a deep and profound connection point. I frame it from the perspective of our collective experiences, as a gender, a genesis from this oneness that is pushing against capitalism. As a Kaur from this collective, through Sikhi, justice and everything that resonates from it, is how I live my life.

While Kaur in not part of my legal name, I feel a deep connection, approach and understanding to the community of what a Kaur means. My name was not my choice but was a gift given to me -- I love it.

My experiences are similar to other Kaurs on the Western coast -- many of us are daughters of immigrants. I grew up around immigrant struggles and they shaped who I was. As a teenager, I went to the gurdwara where I learned about justice and fighting for what is right, standing up for those who are marginalized and have no access to power. This is where the foundations of my spirituality merged with Sikhi values. As I moved on to university, my spirituality, academia, and social justices values coalesced, rising to form my community work.

My practice of Sikhi comes from a spiritual sense. The connection to social justice calls me, especially the idea of langar and of sameness by uniting in a space to eat together. I gravitate back and forth to Sikhi throughout my life. It has always been there, something I am deeply proud of since it is where my sense of justice originates.

Within my career, I honour and respect those beliefs by giving back through community engagement, activism, political interests, and working with immigrant communities.  I sit on a board of a financial institution that focuses on giving back. It uses the riches it receives to serve the community we live in, which is exactly what Sikhi embodies. I find it deeply powerful that this traditional transactional and capitalist space is creating and engaging in dialogue and initiatives with a human and social justice focus.

My conviction is rooted to bring in the other and is amplified by the radical shifting of traditional notions, connections and transactions. We just need to explore and amplify them more.

As a mother, I am raising a son to think bigger than himself and to give back. Essentially, everything I believe has been expanded on as a mom and, in truth, it is the most challenging role in life. As parents, my husband and I are constantly trying to teach our son to see the world in all its darkness, yet be the force to make change. He is a beautiful generous soul who articulates inequity and in his own way is a force for change. He is very aware, empathetic and powerful. 

It wouldn’t be right to talk about being a Kaur without talking about my mom and mom-in-law. My mom feels a deep pride of my traditional and non-traditional successes. I can also say she is probably most happy I am over my sullen teenager angst. Like so many Kaurs of her time, the limitations of race, gender, and time prevented her from doing things she may have wanted.

My mother-in-law is a deeply generous and engaging woman. She arrived here in the early 70s and is the essence of the immigrant success story. With little grasp of English, she was a dishwasher in a restaurant on Vancouver Island. Within her 30 year career, she became a trained chef and then an owner of that very same restaurant where she was a dishwasher. 

Being a Kaur and a Sikh in Canada has a few limitations and setbacks, and being conscious of this is important. Luckily, I have a great group of females in my life. We find the space to bring deep comfort to one another. As I move through my journey, they move with me.

I want to be able to look back on my life and feel that I have used the gifts and skills that I been enormously blessed with and worked hard to achieve to bring positive progressive change. I feel it is my duty to use these powers and platforms to bring up people and create space and dialogue for voices that have not been heard before.

At the core, it is this determination that most resonates to me with Sikhi. The trajectory of my life has been to find ways to give back in the most lived sense.


[Courtesy: Saji Kaur Sahota & Jessie Kaur Lehail, The Kaur Project. Edited for sikhchic.com]
February 23, 2017 

Conversation about this article

1: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, USA), February 24, 2017, 7:26 AM.

Lily Kaur ji, I admire and commend you for acquiring a divine base in the gurdwara in your teenage years. It is a tremendous insight on your part to harmonize and synthesize the sound foundation of Sikhi-equality, fraternity and fellowship, eliminating status and creed in the saadh sangat. Naam, Daan and Ishnaan are the basics of Sikhi which need to be promoted and highlighted by our elders for the benefit of all.

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Lily Kaur,
Advocate -
The Kaur Project"









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