BY JASKARANJIT SINGH LALL
Grade 7 student
Queensborough Middle School
CANADA is officially the first country in the world to adopt formal legislation to recognize April as Sikh Heritage Month. The bill was unanimously passed by the Senate on Thursday, April 11, and received royal assent from the Governor General on April 30.
Sikhs travelled from Northern India (the Punjab region) to Canada at the end of the 19th century. The Sikh soldiers were part of the Hong Kong army regiments travelling through Canada in 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. In 1902, the second ship of Sikh soldiers travelling on the Empress of Japan docked in Victoria, BC. Nearly 5,000 immigrants from Punjab — the majority of the Sikhs — arrived in Canada between the year 1904 to 1908.
“[Sikhs] have been a part of the fight for equality, helped build our industries, and today provide the services we all depend on as Canadians. To come to this moment in Canadian history, there is 120 years of struggle, hard work, and success.”
Ontario was the first province to declare April as Sikh Heritage Month in 2013, followed by B.C. in 2017. It has cultural and religious significance. April is an important month for Sikhs around the world as they gather to celebrate Vaisakhi, which marks the birth of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Sikh Guru, in 1699.
Sikh Heritage Month’s main motive is to make Canadians understand just how immigrants have contributed to Canada because when we better understand the complete history of Canada, and the values Sikhs and Canadians share like equality, justice, and service, our diversity and ultimately our country will become stronger.