Sikh community planting hundreds of trees in Brampton, Scarborough this weekend

Hundreds of people braved rainy weather to plant 550 trees in Brampton on Saturday as part of an effort to combat climate change and celebrate the founder of Sikhism.

Environmentalism ingrained in Sikh faith, says founder of EcoSikh Canada

Sikhs worldwide are planting 550 trees in their respective communities to celebrate the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak's birth. (CBC)

Hundreds of people braved rainy weather to plant 550 trees in Brampton on Saturday as part of an effort to combat climate change and honour the founder of Sikhism.

Shovels in hand, Sharanjeet Kaur came with her young children to do their part for the environment — but also to celebrate Guru Nanak, the first Sikh guru.

"Guru Nanak was an environmentalist," said Kaur. "[This is] really understanding his teachings and putting them into practice."

City of Brampton councillor Harkirat Singh planned and organized the event, with members of EcoSikh on hand. 

EcoSikh is a non-profit organization that has begun a global movement to connect Sikh values and environmental issues. 

People around the world are planting 550 trees in their respective communities to celebrate the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak's birth, said global EcoSikh founder Rajwant Singh.

Sharanjeet Kaur, right, came out with her children and nephew to plant trees on Saturday. (CBC)

Another 550 trees will be planted in Scarborough on Sunday, and there is a tree planting event in Oakville next weekend.

Environmentalism is engrained in the Sikh faith, said Roop Sidhu, who founded EcoSikh's Canadian chapter in June.

EcoSikh Canada has done a number of tree planting events across the country, Sidhu said.

By Guru Nanak's birthday on Nov. 12, Sidhu said they will have planted more than 10,000 trees across Canada. Their goal is to plant 55,000 trees in Canada by 2021.

Roop Sidhu, president of EcoSikh Canada, said the group will have planted about 10,000 trees across Canada by Nov. 12. (CBC)

Sikhs planting trees around the world

Guru Nanak was the founder of Sikhism — and harmony with nature was a core part of his teachings, Singh said.

"We feel that planting trees is a sacred act," said Singh, adding that it "should be part of practicing our faith" and not just for the environment.

Rajwant Singh, president of EcoSikh, a global organization based in Washington. (CBC)

EcoSihk's goal is to engage the Sikh community to take action on the environment based on the teachings of their faith, Singh said.

"Earth is a gift from God," said Singh. "Our future generations need to have the same gifts of nature."

Sidhu said the organization is not exclusive to the Sikh community — they want to work with all communities to take action against climate change.

"We're just another climate action group that wants to help," Sidhu said.

Sidhu started the Canadian chapter of EcoSikh in June. (CBC)

The Brampton tree planting event took place by the Gore Meadows Community Centre.

The Scarborough tree planting event is scheduled for Sunday at Morningside Park.

With files from Fresh Air, Kelda Yuen