bc-100122-sikh-haiti-donations

Members of Metro Vancouver's South Asian community raised $1.5 million for Haitian relief efforts. ((CBC))

A Sikh temple and three South Asian radio stations in the Metro Vancouver area say they've raised $1.5 million in donations and pledges for victims of the Haitian earthquake.

At a joint news conference at the Guru Nanak Sikh temple in Surrey, east of Vancouver, temple president Bikramjit Singh Sandhar said members of the community opened their hearts and wallets after the Jan. 12 earthquake rocked Haiti.

"The Gurdwara [temple] took a lead in it with it, also the radio stations, and just created such an awareness. And with that awareness, I think people just responded," said Sandhar.

Harpreet Singh of Radio India says seniors and children were among those giving whatever they could.

"For us, the Sikhs, the entire humanity is one," Singh said. "So we believe it is our duty to help those people in distress and that's why people came forward — small children coming, elders coming. And people who are working on an average salary, they are also coming and giving $100, $200."

TV images of the human suffering also inspired the community to donate to help the victims, said Sandhar.

"You can see a child with no parents or nobody to go to now. I mean these are things that touch every individual everywhere," said Sandhar.

Singh said $500,000 collected by Radio India will be given to Gov. Gen. Michaël Jean, who was born in Haiti, so it can be passed on to aid groups. The rest of the money collected by the other groups will be split among Doctors Without Borders and a group called United Sikhs.

The Vancouver area has a large Sikh population, many of whom come from the Punjab region of India and now live in Surrey.