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Canada’s Sikh officer who fought for right to wear turban honored

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Photo: Flickr

Vancouver: Baltej Singh Dhillon, who made the history after being appointed the first turbaned Sikh officer in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), was honored at an annual event held to eradicate racism on Saturday.

Organized by Spice Radio in partnership with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, it was second annual Raise Your Hands Against Racism campaign that was launched on the occasion of Martin Luther King’s birth anniversary last year.

Dhillon’s appointment in 1990 had stirred lot of controversy as it led to quite the racist backlash with rightwing groups openly opposing his recruitment. However, he won the fight despite many challenges and hostility.

Dhillon told HT that the RCMP will soon have turbans for commissioned Sikh officers like himself which means uniform rules are going to be amended to accommodate turbaned officials.

Dhillon is the first individual to be honored as part of the anti-racism initiative that was started by Spice Radio CEO Shushma Datt, a seasoned broadcaster in the local South Asian community. She has announced that each year trailblazers like Dhillon will be recognised and honoured for standing up against discrimination in any form.

The campaign coincides with the festival of Holi and participants are encouraged to dip their hands in color and leave their handprints on a sheet of white paper along with a statement against racism at different locations across Greater Vancouver.

People from different ethnicities thronged to all these locations in Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey and White Rock to participate in the campaign. The volunteers wore t-shirts carrying slogan #HandsAgainstRacism. The campaign location in Surrey, with a sizable Punjabi population, remained a crowd puller where Indo-Canadian MLA Harry Bains also showed up.

Both Vancouver and Surrey municipalities made proclamations recognizing the campaign.

At the opening event held at Roundhouse Community Center, prominent South Asian scholar Suresh Kurl spoke about the significance of Holi and its relevance in the fight against racism. Shiamak Davar dance team and a team of drummers led by popular radio host Gurp Sian performed on the occasion.

Source: Hindustan Times

  • Shriya Katoch

    Such bravehearted people that protect our culture in foreign borders should truly be rewarded .

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An Indian Origin Woman Minister in the Government of British Columbia

As member of the British Columbia legislative assembly, she is a minister representing the Liberal Party in the government headed by Premier John Horgan.

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British Columbia, the Canadian province that is a leader in technology and has one of the fastest growing tech ecosystems in the world
British Columbian Flag.Wikimedia commons

From Canada, that boasts of a first Indian-origin Defence Minister in Harjit Singh Sajjan, here is the story of another Indian-origin woman migrant who has risen to become a minister in the government of the British Columbia — the Western-most province of the country known for its tech prowess globally.

Meet Jinny Jogindera Sims, who was born in Jalandhar in Punjab and migrated at age nine to England where she got a B.Ed degree at the University of Manchester.

Then, Sims and her husband moved to Canada in 1976. The first woman President of British Columbia’s largest teachers’ union, she was elected to the Canadian Parliament in 2011.

The 65-year-old mother of two, who now heads the Ministry of Citizens’ Services of British Columbia, is quite passionate about her job.

In a conversation with IANS, when asked about Canada’s inclusive nature and how emigrants like her can make it to the top in different fields including political power, pat came her reply: “If you ask me is there more we can do, my answer will be absolutely. We need to do more on aboriginals and the nations’ ethnic communities”.

“We need to do more. Inclusivism and racism is not a one-time issue. We need to do more for their education and other issues. We need to do it all the time”.

Asked about Indians and attracting the talent in the growing tech sector of British Columbia, Sims said Indians have made a name for themselves in the tech and other sectors and are in the forefront.

“I have been to India as an MP to various cities, including Bengaluru and Kolkata. Looking at the skills and talent and amazing companies, India is important in the tech sector. We are looking at new cooperation with Indian tech companies,” she emphasised.

As member of the British Columbia legislative assembly, she is a minister representing the Liberal Party in the government headed by Premier John Horgan.

The 65-year-old mother of two, who now heads the Ministry of Citizens' Services of British Columbia, is quite passionate about her job.
Then, Sims and her husband moved to Canada in 1976. The first woman President of British Columbia’s largest teachers’ union, she was elected to the Canadian Parliament in 2011. Pixabay

Asked about her ministry’s work, Sims said her department has gone more digital in delivering services to citizens and that has brought its own problems.

Cyber crime, fake news and other related problems faced by the countries across the world are also her main problems.

“Digital economy is growing. More and more people are getting sophisticated and trying to commit cyber crimes. We are engaged more with businesses that are worried that more people are trying to get information online through Internet bandits.

“We are telling businesses to build extra layers of security. It is like when we construct a home, we have doors and windows which we close for security. Likewise, businesses have to build layers of security like Next-Gen anti-virus solutions and firewalls,” the minister stressed.

She said her ministry is very agile on cyber security and has become smarter with time.

“They (cyber-criminals) have got technology and are, all the time, trying to get into our systems. Nearly 300,000 systems were affected which is mind-boggling. It also shows we have to be extra-cautious, building firewalls and constantly monitoring them,” Sims said.

Asked about the problem of data stealing and stalking over social media platforms, Sims said the government’s role in this is limited.

As a mother and a grandmother, she would only advise that schools and parents have to tell children on the newer risks arising from the use of Internet.

“Parents can limit the children from accessing Internet. We can teach and guide them on cyber security. Businesses also have a responsibility,” Sims added.

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The identity cards issued by her government for accessing citizens’ services have high-security features and cannot be breached for extracting personal details.

“Our ID cards, personal details are never shared with anyone. There is nothing that goes out from our portal,” she noted.

Asked if she was aware of the controversy surrounding the Aadhaar card in India, the minister said, “a little bit”. (IANS)