TO honor Sant Teja Singh Ji and the history and Culture of Sikhs in British Columbia, July 1 was declared as ‘Sant Teja Singh Day’ by the Government of British Columbia.
The provincial government on Friday honoured the anti-racist activist and scholar at an event held at the constituency office of Surrey-Green Timbers MLA Rachna Singh, who is also the Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives.
A proclamation declaring July 1, 2021 as “Sant Teja Singh Day” by Attorney General David Eby and the Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin was presented to the members of the Sikh community by Singh.
Sant Teja Singh was a towering spiritual leader of the Sikh community who had fought for the equal rights to the immigrants, especially those who began coming to BC from India during the end of the nineteenth century. This was the time when India was under British occupation and most immigrants started arriving to this part of the world as British subjects in a hope of better livelihood. However, they had to endure blatant racism as they were neither allowed to bring in their families, nor they had a right to vote. The authorities who wanted to keep Canada as a “white man’s land” adopted several policies that were aimed at discouraging permanent settlement of Indian immigrants in BC.
As part of these measures, a conspiracy was hatched to relocate Indian immigrants to Honduras. Sant Teja Singh who came to know about such plans alerted his community and helped in mobilizing people against it. The community’s resistance forced the government to abandon the idea.
Every year, Sikhs commemorate Sant Teja Singh Day on July 1. Gurdwara Sukh Sagar Sahib Khalsa Diwan Society in New Westminster has been in the forefront of this tradition. Recognizing these efforts of the community, the BC government officially proclaimed July 1 as Sant Teja Singh Day.
The proclamation describes Singh as “a humanitarian, scholar and tireless advocate for Sikhs in Canada who dedicated his life to challenging inequality, fighting for a just society and serving without discrimination in accordance with the tenets of Sikhism”.
(Information and photo provided by journalist Gurpreet Singh)