B.C. publisher, British PM honoured at World Sikh Awards

Harbinder Singh Sewak, chair of The Friends of the Sikh Cadet Corps Society, is congratulated by commanding officer Major Jim Blomme. SUBMITTED PHOTO

VANCOUVER DESI

Vancouver publisher, Harbinder Singh Sewak, whose work with the Canadian military and with newspapers to highlight social issues facing immigrants in Canada, took the top media prize at the World Sikh awards in London on Saturday night.

The World Sikh Awards which celebrates the achievements of the global Sikh community also presented British Prime Minister David Cameron a Special Recognition Award for his work with the Sikh community in India.

Dedicating the award to his mother Tharmo Kaur, Sewak said: “(Although) the award is a Sikh award, I feel I’m representing Canada as a whole… Canada is playing a major role in highlighting issues that affect Sikhs all over the world.”

“My great grandfather was awarded a medal by the British government, today less than 100 years later, on British soil, I’m being honoured by own community…this is a great personal honour for me and my family,” said Sewak, who was born in Malaysia and moved to Vancouver in the early 1990’s by way of Bangkok, where he ran a clothing business, New Zealand, where he lived with the native Maoris as a fruit picker, and after backpacking through Europe.

“I wanted to see the world and my family was very supportive.”

In Vancouver, Sewak publishes the Asian Pacific Post, the South Asian Post and the Filipino Post.

He was first South Asian print publisher to win a Jack Webster excellence in journalism award in mainstream categories. He was also the co-author of Justice for Jassi, a book following the so-called ‘honour killing’ of Jaswinder Jassi Sidhu, the 25-year-old Maple Ridge girl who was allegedly murdered in 2000 for marrying an Indian rickshaw driver. Sidhu’s mother and uncle have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder and are currently facing extradition to India.

Sewak also founded the 3300 B.C. Regiment Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps (RCACC), the first-ever corps funded by a Sikh community group, The Friends of the Sikh Cadet Corps Society, which now has more than 75 cadets and has seen interest not only in B.C., but across the country.

He was instrumental in arranging for the Canadian military participation at the mammoth Surrey Vaisakhi festival parades.
Major-General Robert Nitsch of the UK Support Command, hailed Sewak’s work with the Canadian military, especially the cadet program.

“I look forward to sharing your ideas for our British military outreach initiatives‎,” said Nitsch, who was among the 750 guests at the gala event held at the Hilton Park Lane hotel in London.

Jas Parmar, Bedford Borough’s mayoral candidate said Sewak’s projects in Canada spoke volumes for the world Sikh community.

The judges in awarding the award said “they were totally impressed with the range of achievements by Sewak after having delved deeply into his work when deciding on the nominations and winners”

Receiving his award at 10 Downing Street, Prime Minister Cameron said: “It is a tremendous honour to receive this award and I’d like to say a big thank you for the privilege.”

He added: “These awards are all about highlighting the very best of the Sikh faith both here in Britain and abroad, and I want to congratulate all those who are being recognised for their contribution.”

Other winners at The Sikh Awards were Jatinder Singh Durhailay, 25, from Ilford, who won the People’s Choice Award. The artist’s work has been exhibited around the world, including at the Tate Modern at the National Army Museum.

Professor Harminder Singh Dua, who is the chair and professor of ophthalmology at the University Hospital Nottingham, won the award for Professions. He is the current president of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and editor-in-chief of the

British Journal of Ophthalmology.

India-based Harpal Singh Saggu received the Sikh Businessman Award. Saggu operates ‘Synergy Group’ which has an annual turnover of USD 200 million and over 4,000 employees.

Harpreet Kaur won the Sikh Businesswoman Award. She was only 11-year-old when she began investing in the stock market.

Kaur is the founder of GICF Group, which consists of GICF Education, Finance, Productions and Soch Trust.

The ceremony, which was organized by The Sikh Directory, was hosted by former London Mayoral adviser Kulveer Ranger and Kiss FM radio presenter DJ Neev.

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