Malaysian-born Inderjeet Singh has been appointed as the first Canadian Sikh Chaplain at the University of British Columbia (UBC).
The appointment is collective effort by the Sikh community of British Columbia (BC) to place someone with a higher education administration and student affairs background to the position.
The role of the chaplain is now widely used and accepted term to refer to men and women who represent their religion or philosophical traditions.
Inderjeet possess a Master of Education and served in Student Affairs, Residence Life, Greek Life and International Students Admissions for six years, while being a student and graduate student at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
“This is an interesting challenge. We need to connect the divide between today’s youth interests and traditionally-inspired spiritual practices,” he told Asia Samachar.
As a practicing Sikh, Inderjeet, known as Indy to his friends, had played an active role in the Sikh camps and activities run by Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (SNSM), a Kuala Lumpur headquartered Sikh youth body.
He had been also involved in coordinating and running Sikh camps in Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, United States and Canada since the early 1990’s.
As a chaplain, he will also develop a culture of sharing through Langgar; serve as the advisor and resource to the UBC SSA; increase the visibility of the UBC SSA in all university activities; serve as an essential contact for the parents of Sikh international students while at UBC; and also act as the liaison between UBC and the Sikh community of BC.
Besides serving the needs of the Sikh students, the chaplain participates in international student orientations, Imagine UBC, the Wellness Fair, as well as the convocation. Chaplains also participate in special programs, festivals, cultural exhibitions and art displays.
The Sikh Chaplain will be part of the University Multifaith Chaplains Association, which contributes to the well-being of the UBC community. The association addresses and engages the community in faith and spirituality, meditation and emotional healing, friendship and community, citizenship and leadership, and, intercultural dialogue and collaboration.
On the chaplain role, information at the UBC website notes that opportunities for religious observance are available under the guidance of Ccaplains representing a variety of faiths.
“Chaplains are an important spiritual resource for students, but they are not UBC employees and are completely separate and independent from UBC.
“They are accountable to and financially supported by their own religious constituencies, and they do not act under the direction or authority of UBC,” it adds.
For the past five years, Inderjeet has been developing and conducting his latest programs for 200 teenagers in New Westminster, BC (Sukh Sagar Gurdwara), according to a note at Sikhs On Campus website.
Here, he coaches and mentors youth volunteers, educating and empowering them to run camps, classes, and events focused on religious philosophy, citizenship, culture, and social and communications skills.
Inderjeet also serves as a coordinator for Guru Nanak’s Free Kitchen, a program to feed the homeless in Vancouver’s Eastside, serving nearly 50,000 meals per year to the needy.
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