Manitoba’s only Sikh independent school, Dasmesh School, started classes last week, as students filled up their new school building in Charleswood.
Manjinderpal Singh Chahal, school board chairman, is a busy man these days. On the third day of classes, he was still getting calls from parents who want their children to attend classes there.
Chahal said he’s humbled by the response the school has received.
"To see the kids running around the halls, running, dancing … I cannot explain it in words, I feel happy and proud," Chahal said. "We want our kids to be academically strong, and we also want them to have that cultural connection."
Chahal said their new school, located in the former Chapman School at 3707 Roblin Blvd., is a "full-fledged school," with a gymnasium, computer and science labs. The students have access to Punjabi language classes, Sikh religious studies, as well as dance and music classes.
Dasmesh school moved into the former Chapman School in Charleswood for their 2019-2020 year. This is the first time in the school’s seven-year history that it’s operating within its own campus. When the school started in 2012, classes were held at the Sikh temple on Sturgeon Road, with around 20 students. They outgrew that space in 2013, and moved to the Punjab Cultural Centre, where they stayed until 2019.
The Punjab Cultural Centre eventually became too small, and with the addition of Grade 9 students into the school, Chahal said they needed space for science and computer labs, a requirement for the provincial curriculum.
Amandeep Kaur Sran, principal, said maintaining the cultural connection in the students is very important.
"That was the main purpose, we want the culture to be integrated with the students. We want them to speak our own language," Sran said. "They should be proud of who they are, they should know where they came from, otherwise they are just a kite without a thread. It’s really important."
Chahal said they teach the mandate provincial curriculum, and they also offer Sikh religion and culture classes. They also have a dance studio, where students can learn folk dancing and music.
Sran said their long-term goal is to construct their own campus. They also want to add a new grade every year, so current students can attend Dasmesh right until Grade 12.
Community journalist — The Metro
Justin Luschinski is the community journalist for The Metro. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org