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When Inderjit Singh Jagraon, 58, co-founded the Sikh Motorcycle Club (SMC) of Ontario in 2013 as a way to bring others in the community together, little did he know how much of an impact it would make. Today, the national club, of which he is also a founding member, has more than 300 members. In 2021, SMC received a Diabetes Canada National Volunteer Award for its fundraising efforts, in addition to other awards. “Our community work is guided by Sikh principles of universality, which guide us to recognize the human race as one,” he says. “We see the challenges faced by others as our own, and work towards alleviating them.” (April is recognized as Sikh Heritage Month in Canada.)

A personal connection to diabetes

The real estate agent who lives in Toronto with his wife and three daughters is also president of the SMC’s Ontario chapter. He devotes about half of his time to SMC, which organizes events, rides and awareness-related activities for its members, and is open to everyone. One of his daughters has even become a member.

Although the focus of SMC’s fundraising efforts is children and their families, Inderjit is aware of the challenges diabetes—and type 2 diabetes, in particular—holds for people of South Asian descent, who are at higher risk for the condition. His mother-in-law was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes more than 15 years ago, and developed complications related to her heart and kidneys. Today, she receives daily insulin injections, and despite her health challenges, is managing her diabetes well. He says,

Ending diabetes starts with spreading awareness, as most people do not realize the far-reaching consequences of this disease.

United by a common purpose

This is also an important message for Diabetes Canada: helping to End Diabetes starts with people learning the facts about this serious health condition and then taking action. “Inderjit’s philanthropic nature and vision exemplify how an individual can rally people together for a common purpose; in this case, to support the 11.9 million people in Canada living with diabetes or prediabetes,” says Nicole Holder-Dulson, Diabetes Canada’s community engagement and events executive director, who nominated SMC Canada for the award. “Over the past five years, he has lead 3 rides and inspired more than 300 riders across Canada to raise over $160,000 to support the work of Diabetes Canada. We are very thankful for SMC Canada’s contribution and look forward to partnering with them again.”

Inderjit is modest about his successes and sees them as part of a bigger picture. “We at SMC Canada hope that our award will motivate people to do more, to look beyond their personal engagements and dedicate a larger portion of their time and resources for the good of the community.” That is a message worth sharing.

Did you know?

April 16-22 is National Volunteer Week. Diabetes Canada couldn’t do the work we do without the support of dedicated volunteers who fundraise and create awareness about diabetes for the 11.9 million people in Canada living with diabetes or prediabetes. Want to learn how you can make a difference and get involved? Visit Volunteer with Us. #LetsEndDiabetes 

Author: Denise Barnard

Category Tags: Community Spotlight, Impact Stories;

Region: National