Against the colourful backdrop of Vaisakhi celebrations, B.C. Premier John Horgan announced a $1-million grant for upgrades and repairs to Victoria’s Sikh Gurdwara on Topaz Avenue.

Most of the money will go towards improving accessibility in the 50-year-old building and upgrading the kitchen. Members of the gurdwara said this will help not just their congregation but the larger community.

“Because the kitchen is also used for making meals for the community, we prepare monthly meals for Our Place,” explained Hardip Sahota.

As part of the Sikh faith, the gurdwara provides free meals to anyone in need, serving people of any faith and any background.

“It’s part of feeding hundreds and hundreds of people every month and it’s a great opportunity for us to inject some dollars into the gurdwara for all the work they’ve done over 100 years now here in the community,” said Horgan.

“The Sikh community here in Victoria has been, in my opinion, a shining example of service to community, regardless of faith. It’s not about religion, it’s about giving back to the community,” he said.

The temple opened in 1912 and is one of the oldest operating in North America.

The announcement came during Vaisakhi, the beginning of harvest season. The holiday has always meant a great deal to the local gurdwara. Being the first in B.C., in its early years it was the place to gather.

“At that time the Sikh congregation from all over the island as well as the mainland would come here and celebrate Vaisakhi,” said Sahota.