Cards, Tea and Friends

Submitted by 1000 Conversations on November 29, 2013 - 9:28am
A community conversation with a group of Sikh men in Burlington

I have always had a fascination with the role that churches play within a neighbourhood.  Historically, they had been the heartbeat of the community but as we have become more individualistic and less religious the church has been pushed to the periphery.  Now, though, it seems they are making a come back.  One of the big reasons is because they have something that many neighbourhood and community groups are desperately looking for: space. When you go to (particularly) urban churches you will learn that they share their space with many other groups.  North Burlington Baptist Church is no different.  A couple months ago when I was getting a tour of their space, I stumbled across a group of men from the local Sikh community playing cards.  I learned that they come four days a week in the afternoons to play cards, drink tea and talk.  Last week I was able to join them, attempt to learn how to play their card game (a really complicated card game called, "Sweep") and talk about what community means to them.

All of the men who were there had been born in India and had later come to Canada bringing their family.  They reflected on how different community was here in Canada compared to back home.  People used to be more strongly connected; a family and extended family would all live in the same village.  Now, though, all of them said their children were spread out across the country.  One man talked about visiting his son and daughter in Vancouver several times a year.  This distance made it hard for them to keep up the strong family ties.


Still, they also pointed out that not much changed since living in India: as humans we all have the common urge to meet each other and spend time together.  They talked about how celebrations served as a common gathering place for people to come together and be with each other.  Like in India, these celebrations included things like weddings, religious functions and festivals like the fall fair they do with North Burlington Baptist Church.  Sports also came up as a common gathering point, specifically watching soccer and playing cards.

I found this group to be particularly interesting.  The same group of men had been getting together four times a week to play sweep for over ten years.  I asked them about it and they said it was a refuge for them.  Family can be stressful at times but this card playing game is a place where you can escape the stresses. It is wonderful to simply come to play, have fun, joke and pass time in the company of friends.

A theme that started to emerge from our conversation was the common thread of humanity that flows through all cultures and all religions.  They emphasized how all religions teach peace and love and how Christ was also a spiritual authority for the welfare of humanity. 

I asked them about how they find happiness and they replied that happiness is rooted in having a good house, job, kids and friends.  One of them piped up saying that you find happiness when you discover your values and then live them out.

There is no doubt that lots of happiness abounds in this group of friends as they play together and enjoy each others' company.


Sounds like a great group of men!

I think churches should absolutely be places that are opened up to the community to use throughout the week- I love that these men meet to play cards daily- how wonderful!

Truly interfaith

The other great thing about this is that it opened up a dialogue between the church community and the local Sikh community that the men are a part of.  Now they do a series of events together including a big fall fair and chirstmas celebration.

It is always exciting to see these interfaith dialogues.