Ucluelet councillor and Community Paramedic Rachelle Cole gets a Bhangra lesson from Gurdeep Pandher on Aug. 11. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Yukon’s social media star Gurdeep Pandher promotes unity through dance

“I am raising awareness to embrace diversity.”

Yukon-based Bhangra dancer Gurdeep Pandher spent last week touring Vancouver Island, and he brought his 19.5K Twitter followers along for the ride.

A video of Pandher, dancing joyously barefoot on Long Beach in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve was shared by over 500 people and loved by thousands. His dancing tour of the Island garnered so much attention that he was invited to the B.C. Legislature to teach his traditional Punjab dance to Premier John Horgan, Victoria MLAs and staff.

At Ucluelet’s iconic Amphitrite Point Lighthouse last week, Pandher took some time to show Ucluelet councillor and Community Paramedic Rachelle Cole a few moves.

“Through my dance, I am raising awareness to embrace diversity. When I [say] diversity, I mean embracing everyone,” he said.

“I am also trying to add some joy, positivity and happiness with the masses. We can come together and build those cross-cultural bridges. We often fill divided and when we feel divided we go into our own bubbles. I am trying to bring people out of our own bubble so see the bigger picture, we can connect, and we can dance,” said Pandher.

Cole said dance, much like food, attire and music, is a fabulous layer of cultural experience.

“Any time we can get our body moving we should—pair it with this happy charismatic gentleman, beautiful West Coast day, and a fantastic backdrop… I left Amphitrite [Lighthouse] feeling invigorated and happy—happy to be as fortunate as we are to live where we live, especially during these challenging times. We should all strive to take the time find ways to bring moments of happy to one another. Thank you Gurdeep,” said Cole.

Throughout the closures brought on by COVID-19, the joyous Bhangra dancing videos gave his followers an outlet to be happy, notes Pandher. Shortly after, in the month of July, the Black Lives Matter rallies raised his platform on a whole new level.

“That movement touched a lot of us in many ways. People were reflecting on that. There were a lot of rallies and protests. It was great, but it was creating a lot of sadness too. These news were not happy news. I do feel that racism and discrimination does exist in our country,” he said.

“Me being a person of colour, these type of things resonate with me too. I know what discrimination means. I know what racism means. I think that everybody should recognize that it does exist. And how to eliminate this and how to come out of this so we can create an equal society for everyone so that everyone can be happy, thrive and prosper,” Pandher said.

Cole agreed.

“The more opportunities/initiatives that encourage this kind of engagement the better we will be as community’s, a society and as humans,” she said.

During his tour of Vancouver Island, Pandher also shared videos of dancing with members of the Nanaimo Fire Department, a West Shore RCMP officer, and Canada’s NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.



nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

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