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1984 is a very famous year for many reasons. The one most people recognize is George Orwell’s classic novel about a dystopian future set in 1984 where the truth can be flipped upside down from one day to the next.


For the millions of Sikhs who make up the Sikh Nation, 1984 is famous for something far more shocking and real.

The attack on Darbar Sahib
(The Gold Temple)

The massacre, or genocide that took place in November of that year when between 3,000 and 17,000 men, women and children were killed in an organized mob attack that was staged by the Indian government after the assassination of Indira Ghandi by her two Sikh bodyguards after the Indian Government used it’s own military to attack Darbar Sahib (The Gold temple).

At the time there was only one Indian National television channel and one National radio channel. There was no coverage of what actually happened during the whole time State owned media was encouraging hostile action by the mobs against the Sikhs. The Government wanted to send the Sikh Nation a lesson. “Blood for Blood”, they said. November 1984 was a planned massacre, pogrom or genocide, where the government brutally killed their own citizens.

It took many years of investigating the facts to piece together the truth. The Government used voter lists to identify Sikh homes and businesses and they used municipal buses to bring the rioters in. They fed them alcohol and gave the rioters two and a half foot iron rods and kerosene.

Eventually, people began to understand that this mass murder was planned. Justice needed to be found. The police watched as bodies were burned and the army was never brought in, even though they were stationed very close by. They watched as Delhi burned. The Indian Government spread misinformation, trying to portray the idiolect that all Sikhs were terrorists. The Sikh Nation’s reputation would be forever tarnished unless they found a way to re-frame the story in a way that brought dignity and honour to the victims of the massacre in Delhi.

I spoke with one of the volunteers about the Blood Donation campaign against the Genocide of 1984. We thought: “Here we are in this wonderful country Canada, where many ethnic groups live happily together.

We saw that all these different ethnic groups have different skin colors, have different countries of origin and different backgrounds, but the one thing that unites them, the one common thing, was that we all have the same blood. Everyone’s blood is red.”

We had found our cause… we would fight terror with a life-saving gift. No more blood would be shed. Instead, lives would be saved. We would do something so kind, so lasting that it would be a reminder of this horrible time. The Sikh Nation Blood Donation began in 1999. At the time there was so little blood being donated in Surrey that they were actually thinking about closing down the blood donation center. At that time we partnered with Canadian Blood Services.

Our mission was to educate people about the massacre and reveal it for what it was. In our 1st year, we donated 133 units of blood. By our 2nd year, we were the largest partner for Life in Surrey. By our 3rd year, we became the largest partner for life in British Columbia. By 2010 we became the largest Partner for Life (PFL) in Canada.

Each unit of blood saves 3 lives. Since the beginning of this campaign, the Sikh Nation has saved close to 160,000 Canadian lives in the dignified memory of 1984. “Speak out – save lives.” Tyrants will only kill people who are sleeping. They don’t kill people who are awake. Our nation is now wide awake. The campaign is now in more than 20 cities across Canada and 5 other cities in Australia and the United States.

No one gets paid to donate blood in Canada. It’s all volunteer and no one is refused blood in Canada. There is only 1 goal and that is to save your life. Sukhdeep Singh has been a volunteer with the Sikh Nation initiative since its inception. “By helping to save lives we want to commemorate those who lost their lives,” he says. ◆

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