Profile for Tarnjit Kaur

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The Soapbox: On Being A Sikh Feminist

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In light of this weekend’s tragic shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, we thought our readers would be interested to learn more about this religion. We reached out to the Sikh Feminist Research Institute for some thoughts on Sikhism. 

Often I am asked of when I first became aware of being a feminist. This question takes me back to the deepest recesses of my memories of early childhood, since it was my mother who was my first feminist role model. She would frequently give me feminist pep talks: “You want to be a pilot? Yes, of course you can become a pilot!” or “Your favourite color is blue? Sure, blue is a great color.” Often defiant of male authority, a natural and equal partner in running the household, she was both bread-winner and the CEO of our home.

As I grew older I would often wonder about the origins of my mother’s feminist ideas. Not having had the opportunity of a formal education due to the poverty following forced migration at the time of Partition, it was apparent she had no access to the feminist theorists I would come to prize in later life. Instead her ideas emerged from the Sikh historical narratives she was raised on and the strong women in her own life. The re-telling of the lives of Sikh women would provide fodder for bed-time stories, both awe-inspiring but also re-assuring of a universe that made sense where women and men are equals. Keep reading »

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