Joy and positivity tour comes to Petrolia

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Students from the Petrolia Primary School were learning to dance from social media artist Gurdeep Pandher at the Petrolia Y Friday

Gurdeep Pandher says joy can be your best therapy.

The Sikh-Canadian who gained huge following for his videos on social media stopped in Petrolia Thursday to teach the traditional folk dance of Panjab – Bhangra. About 30 people joined him at the Petrolia Y for the hastily arranged session where he urged people to embrace joy and happiness in their lives.

Pandher, who has 210,000 followers on Twitter and 112,000 on Facebook, is a teacher who has lived in Yukon for 11 years. He started sharing his philosophy about joy and positivity when the pandemic started.

“When the COVID was on its peak, I decided to make one video every single day to send a similar message through social media,” he tells The Independent.

“I used to dance and I also used to combine these messages with my dances too and lots and lots of people across the country coast to coast to coast, they connected with my messages, they connected with my videos, they started sending me letters, handwritten letters, and many other artwork made by hand.

“That was quite uplifting, quite moving for me as well. So, at that time that I decided that ‘Hey, this, like dancing and these kinds of messages, they are not just entertainment, they serve as purpose of healing and after uplifting spirits in difficult times.'”

Pandher says he would meet people who would tell him how his videos and messages of embracing joy would touch them including one woman who was diagnosed with cancer in the pandemic. “She made it her ritual every morning, she would watch during that difficult time, my videos for positivity for hope or joy. And she went through a whole treatment when watching my videos… I get chance to hear from people and it makes me realize that hey, even I didn’t know that it could go that far.”

Pandher decided to take his message on the road recently to “bring this message in person beyond screen.”

He’s driven his small van to the East Coast, Quebec and now Ontario, staying with people he’s connected with on Twitter and teaching classes wherever he’s asked.

Melissa Duquette of Petrolia is one of those people. She watched his videos and recently reached out to him to offer a place to stay if he was ever in Petrolia. Wednesday he called saying he would be in town soon. Duquette worked with friend Liz Welsh to find him a place to stay and to set up the class at the Y.

And while he taught them how to dance, he shared his message. “Joy can be your best therapy…We live in a world with so much pain…and then joy is just like sunshine in the darkness.

“What we say and what we think has an impact on our life…Enjoy the moment of being happy…You have to be open to joy.”