“Who are the Sikhs and why are they so involved in politics?”

Mark Brosens, in his article “Sikh Canadians: A Political Success Story,” poses the above question after noting that “despite their ‘quiet’ influence, Sikhs are surprisingly well represented in Canadian politics, given their population in Canada.”

For some answers Brosens looks to Doris Jakobsh, who teaches at the University of Waterloo and is the author of Sikhism, which Brosens calls “an accessible introduction to the faith”:

“[Jakobsh] is not Sikh, but Sikhs and Sikhism have been the subject of her research. [She] described Sikhism saying, ‘The Sikh gurus stood for every individual being able to achieve enlightenment, whether high or low. That was the bottom line for them. . . . There’s a real emphasis on service [among Sikhs]. The emphasis for the most part tends to be service to the gurdwara (a Sikh house of worship) . . . but it is expanding,’ Jakobsh says, noting that many gurdwaras host blood drives and contribute to food banks. . . . Furthermore, Jakobsh notes that every gurdwara is run by a democratically-elected council. Although there are devotional readers, a kind of clergy, all the practical decisions are made by the elected council. ‘There is a sort of inbuilt democracy,’ Jakobsh says.”