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Major donation by TD will help launch Kelowna's first ever mental health and addictions drop-in program for South Asian community

KELOWNA, BC, Jan. 25, 2022 /CNW/ - At a time when people are experiencing periods of loneliness and isolation, The Okanagan Sikh Temple and Cultural Society has received a $40,000 donation from TD Bank Group to help launch a new mental health and addictions recovery support program for South Asian people living in the Okanagan.

"Our community is not immune to the societal issues that many British Columbians are facing, including the opioid crisis and mental health challenges," said Amarjit Singh Lalli, President, The Okanagan Sikh Temple and Cultural Society. "We want South Asian people who may be struggling to be able to seek help and access available resources that are both language-specific and culturally safe."

The program will provide drop-in sessions for people who identify as South Asian and are seeking help fighting mental health challenges associated with addiction. The initiative comes at a critical time following a Fraser Health study that suggested South Asian people "may be more likely to die from an overdose than non-South Asian people." The same report found that there were low engagement rates with substance use treatment among South Asian men.

"There has certainly been a history of stigma around substance abuse, however, the conversation within the South Asian community is changing," said Vik Bains who is the Branch Manager of TD in Rutland. "Whether in our branch or out in the community, I am talking to people who are increasingly opening up about their own personal struggles or are expressing concern over loved ones."

"I believe people in our community do not want to be suffering in silence any longer," Bains said.

The funding will also go toward helping to improve communication between parents and children around drug use and gang-culture.

Work is already underway by The Okanagan Sikh Temple and Cultural Society to recruit multiple experienced counsellors who can speak Punjabi and English to lead the drop-in sessions. The sessions will be held either virtually or on-site, dependent on pandemic restrictions.

"This funding will enable us to reach as many community members as possible during such a challenging time for everyone," Lalli said. "And, so long as the need exists, we are committed to keeping this conversation going while continuing to extend a compassionate hand."

About The Okanagan Sikh Temple and Cultural Society

The Okanagan Sikh Temple and Cultural Society was incorporated in November of 1979 with 34 Sikh families in the area. The first Sikh temple in Kelowna opened in 1982, and to meet the needs of the city's growing Sikh population, a new facility was built and opened in 2008. For more information, visit

About TD Bank Group

The Toronto-Dominion Bank and its subsidiaries are collectively known as TD Bank Group ("TD" or the "Bank"). TD is the fifth largest bank in North America by assets and serves more than 26 million customers in three key businesses operating in a number of locations in financial centres around the globe: Canadian Retail, including TD Canada Trust, TD Auto Finance Canada, TD Wealth (Canada), TD Direct Investing, and TD Insurance; U.S. Retail, including TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank®, TD Auto Finance U.S., TD Wealth (U.S.), and an investment in The Charles Schwab Corporation; and Wholesale Banking, including TD Securities. TD also ranks among the world's leading online financial services firms, with more than 15 million active online and mobile customers. TD had CDN$1.7 trillion in assets on October 31, 2021. The Toronto-Dominion Bank trades under the symbol "TD" on the Toronto and New York Stock Exchanges.

SOURCE TD Bank Group

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