Since Confederation Sikhs have been a major part of Canadian society.
In 1867 Prime Minister John A. MacDonald famously wrote to his friend – Sir Henry Sumner Maine a British comparative jurist and historian who lived in India at the time – “Send me an army of Sikhs.” As for ages, the Sikhs have had a reputation of being noble and determined warriors.
During World War 1 Sikhs such as Private Buckam Singh joined the army to fight for Canada.
Singh was recorded to have been wounded twice, in two separate battles. Singh was later sent to a hospital in England where he passed away. During World War 2 Sikhs again in large numbers joined the army and fought for various Common Wealth nations including Canada. The Sikh people continue to serve Canada in the RCMP, Armed Forces and other Canadian law enforcement and national defence agencies.
Canadian Sikhs have also been active in sports. Toronto native Sim Bhullar played for the Sacramento Kings of the NBA in 2015. The Edmonton Oilers’ Jujhar Singh Khaira was drafted 63rd overall in the 2012 NHL Draft. He has played 25 games for the Oilers and has accumulated 3 points so far in his career.
In politics, Sikhs have had a great record in all 3 of Canada’s major political parties. Just weeks ago Jagmeet Singh became the New Democratic Party Leader. He won the leadership election on the first ballot with 53.8% of the vote. Singh has also been said to be more “progressive” and “hip” than old man Justin Trudeau.
Singh is not the only New Democrat to hold a high profile position in politics. Ujjal Dosanjh became the first man of colour to become Premier when he was first elected in 2000 to become the 33rd Premier of British Columbia. In the Liberal Party of Canada we have seen Sikhs take political office for years. In 1993 Gurbax Singh Malhi became the first turbaned man to become a Member of Parliament in the Western Commonwealth Countries.
Today 4 Sikhs serve in Trudeau’s Liberal Cabinet. Harjit Sajjan (Minister of National Defence), Navdeep Bains (Minister of Education and Science), Amarjeet Sohi (Minister of Infrastructure and Communities) and Bardish Chagger (Minister of Small Business and Tourism and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons).
Historically Sikhs have fought for issues such as gender equality and human rights. Sikhs believe in freedom for all individuals and the importance of justice and fairness. The Conservative Party of Canada and other provincial Conservative parties have also held a great number of Sikhs as well.
In provincial politics, Manmeet Singh Bhullar – a Conservative legend and hero – was first elected to the Alberta Legislature in 2008 as a Progressive Conservative MLA. He also served as the Minister of Human Services, Minister of Service Alberta and Minister of Infrastructure. Bhullar was the first (and currently only) turbaned Sikh to become a Provincial Cabinet Minister in the history of Alberta. Bhullar inspired a generation of young Conservatives in Alberta. Sadly on November 23, 2015, Bhullar passed away in a car accident while helping another driver in a different accident.
Prabhdeep Singh Gill became a MLA for Calgary-Greenway after a by-election in 2016. He currently serves in the United Conservative Caucus.
In federal politics, Tim Singh Uppal became the first turbaned Sikh to become a Cabinet Minister in Canadian history. He was first appointed as the Minister of State for Democratic Reform (2011) and then the Minister of State for Multiculturalism (2013) by the Harper Conservatives.
Ontario is preparing for a provincial election in 2018. It is projected that the Patrick Brown Progressive Conservatives my lead the way. One of the PC Candidates is the young Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria. Sarkaria is a Lawyer and Former World Sikh Organization VP. He will be running in the riding of Brampton South in the upcoming provincial election.
With so many Sikhs continuing the tradition of active involvement in Canada I am sure we will continue to see a bright future for Sikh Canadians nationwide.
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