Sikh Heritage Museum tells of turban’s troubled times in B.C.

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

Baltej Singh Dhillon had to “struggle” to maintain his identity when he moved to Canada in 1983.

He chose to continue following his Sikh faith and did not cut his hair or remove his turban. But as the only turbaned student in high school, he was the victim of discrimination — which only prepared him for what lay ahead.

When he joined the RCMP, it sparked an “unprecedented national debate on the question on whether one could serve Canada without compromising one’s faiths and beliefs,” as Dhillon describes it.

But on Sunday, he stood before a crowd of more than 50 Abbotsford community members — politicians, Sikhs and non-Sikhs — as the first turbaned Sikh member of the RCMP. Dhillon, proudly wearing his bright red RCMP uniform and beige turban, shared his story of struggle and triumph as the keynote speaker for the opening of the Sikh Heritage Museum’s exhibit on the turban challenge.

It’s the museum’s third historical exhibit showcasing the history of the Indo-Canadian community since their arrival to Canada in 1904 and the challenges they faced around the turban and its evolution.

“Folks went through a lot of trouble … saying no to turbans,” Dhillon told the crowd about his early RCMP career. “There was a lot of effort, all assigned to do one thing: marginalize one group of people … so it would be easier to hate them.”

The turmoil over his turban followed him into training, he received death threats and a mayor even requested he not be assigned to their city.

“Thankfully there were many who stood up in opposition to this hate mongering,” said Dhillon. “It took time, but it always does.”

“We’re definitely maturing as a country.”

Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman came out for the exhibit and was a testament to how far the country has come: gurdwara members helped tie a bright yellow turban around his head before he entered the temple and addressed the crowd.

“Right now we have an opportunity,” he told the crowd. “(To) come in here and ask (questions), so (we) can understand the importance and the significance of what the turban means.”

“It’s important that we share our religion and share our stories and share our culture with one another,” he added. “The Indo-Canadian community is a vital part of Abbotsford … the Sikhs helped build this province, they helped build Abbotsford.”

Twenty years ago, a mayor or MP would never sit in a Sikh gurdwara wearing a turban, said Dhillon.

“It’s steps forward,” he said. “I’ve seen us mature as a country — we have come a long way. We no longer settle for tolerance, that’s the language of the old. We need to get rid of that word, we now demand acceptance of each other.”

The exhibit is expected to run until September at the Sikh Heritage Museum, located at 33094 South Fraser Way in Abbotsford, directly across from the Khalsa Diwan Society.

Tags: , , , , , ,





Featured

Pakistan-U.S.

U.S. teen pilot seeking record for around-the-world flight dies in ocean crash, Pakistan-born father missing

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS INDIANAPOLIS — A U.S. teenager who was attempting to set a record for an around-the-world flight was killed when his plane crashed…
Continue Reading »

Surrey-weight lifter-Commonwealth Games-Glasgow

Surrey weightlifter Parm Phangura bound for Commonwealth Games

MICHAEL BOOTH SURREY NOW FLEETWOOD — 163+205=368. That stark equation scrawled in the top corner of a chalkboard means little to a casual observer, but…
Continue Reading »

British Columbia

Ferocious tyrannosaurs might have roamed in packs, newly discovered B.C. footprints suggest

THE CANADIAN PRESS VANCOUVER — Fossilized footprints uncovered in northeastern British Columbia suggest the ferocious tyrannosaurs that ruled the Earth 70 million years ago just…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Surrey-weight lifter-Commonwealth Games-Glasgow

Surrey weightlifter Parm Phangura bound for Commonwealth Games

MICHAEL BOOTH SURREY NOW FLEETWOOD — 163+205=368. That stark equation scrawled in the top corner of a chalkboard means little to a casual observer, but…
Continue Reading »

BC man charged in Syria terrorism

Burnaby man accused of joining Islamist fighters in Syria (w/video)

DOUGLAS QUAN AND TIFFANY CRAWFORD POSTMEDIA NEWS A British Columbia man accused of taking up arms in Syria has become the first person to be…
Continue Reading »

Surrey-Gurdwara president-wife

Funeral set for wife of former Surrey Sikh temple president who died after alleged domestic assault

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI The funeral for Surrey wife and mother Narinder Singh Kalsi, who died in hospital after an alleged domestic-related incident, will take…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Greece

Tipsy British tourist asked to leave church after mistaking it for a disco

CEN AGENCY A tipsy British tourist had to be asked to leave a church in Crete where he started dancing after local kids told him…
Continue Reading »

BC Sikhs

Frustrated Port of Metro Vancouver truckers want government to push companies to comply with action plan

THE CANADIAN PRESS VANCOUVER — Drivers servicing the country’s largest port urged government on Monday to take swift action against trucking companies, which they say…
Continue Reading »

Rashida Samji

B.C. Securities Commission finds Vancouver woman who ran a Ponzi scheme committed $100 million fraud

ALMAS MEHERALLY VANCOUVER DESI VANCOUVER – A B.C. Securities Commission panel has found that a Vancouver woman and two companies she controlled committed a $100-million fraud….
Continue Reading »

Canada-Edmonton-stolen

Canada balks at returning Indian statue of a woman believed stolen from Khajuraho temple

DOUGLAS QUAN POSTMEDIA NEWS  India is trying to repatriate a “voluptuous” 12th-century statue of a woman with a parrot on her bare shoulder that somehow…
Continue Reading »

delays-problems-transit

TransLink says human error caused SkyTrain meltdown Monday

The SkyTrain power outage that stranded thousands of commuters Monday afternoon was caused by human error, according to TransLink. An experienced electrician was installing a…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Slam! The Tour  poster Horizdesi

Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone gear up for Bollywood extravaganzas in Vancouver, Toronto and the U.S.

IANS New Delhi – Superstar Shah Rukh Khan is ready to shake a leg with his fans in the US after a gap of 10…
Continue Reading »

Actress Alia Bhatt attends the Highway premiere during 64th Berlinale International Film Festival at Zoo Palast on February 13, 2014 in Berlin, Germany.Clemens Bilan/Getty Images

Alia Bhatt feels she’s too young to team up with Bollywood’s Khans

IANS Mumbai – Bollywood’s reigning Khans are in their late 40s and 21-year-old Alia Bhatt feels she needs to look more matured to look convincing…
Continue Reading »

Priyanka Chopra

If Hollywood has Hilary Swank, we have Priyanka Chopra: Bollywood filmmaker

IANS Mumbai – Filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali compares Priyanka Chopra with “Million Dollar Baby” star Hilary Swank insisting that only “Barfi” star could pull of…
Continue Reading »