Letters to the editor for the week of December 13th 

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Page 6 of 13

Bruce Kay


Celebrating Sikh pioneers

I am really glad to know that on Nov. 24, 2012 at Quest University there was a seminar held on the first Sikh pioneer in Squamish area, which was presented by two young Sikh boys, Rajkaran Singh Hans and Navdeep Singh Tatla.

It is not easy to understand a person or a community's (current life) or to make any decisions about it (without being) familiar with the past and the history.

In other words, we can say that only knowledge can get rid of ignorance otherwise ignorance can lead to many social and criminal problems. There is no doubt that in this area people do not know about what the Sikh community has contributed to this society — there was no better way to let them know about this community than through this seminar and I hope it continues in future.

I received my immigration to this beautiful and fascinating country in Nov. 2005. Before this I served as a political science professor in Punjab. Luckily, after coming to Canada, Squamish became my first destination. The very first thing I did was buy a Burger King restaurant located on Highway 99, and then I bought a nice house in the Highlands (which is situated in lap of nature) on a very quiet and peaceful cul-de-sac and started a new beginning to my life.

Nov 18, 2005 became a memorable day in my life as I saw a turbaned Sikh photo on municipal election board alongside the road. I stopped and read the name of Rajinder Singh Kahlon and then few minutes later I saw a turbaned Sikh man driving a public transit bus. I had only read about this religious freedom in books, and taught my students about this, but now I was seeing it for the first time in my life.

Right then I decided to grow my beard and start wearing a turban, which is the primary identity of a Sikh. The second question that came into my mind then was when did the first Sikh come into this region, so I decided to do some research on this.

I first approached the Squamish history organization's website. It stated that a small number of Sikh families started living in this area around 1892. According to this website the first Europeans settled in this region in 1874 and two decades later about 35 families started living in today's Brackendale area. Sikh's worked in sawmills and their families lived in houses situated near the waterfront area currently known as Squamish's downtown.

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