Are The Only Way To Make History For Sikhs Is To Have A Turban On?


By Ken Herar

I’m writing in response to the April 25th edition in The Province newspaper ‘ Sikhs look to make history in legislature’. Is this the only way Sikhs can make history?

Being Sikh and promoting diversity in our communities throughout the Lower Mainland and as the founder of Cycling4Diversity Foundation and a local columnist for the past 22 years, I have had the opportunity to listen and speak to many people on diversity related issues and topics.

I have full respect for Sikhs, who wear turbans and its beneficial to our political structure to have diverse voices in the BC Legislature.

The article quotes Amandeep Singh, who is running for the NDP in Richmond and Gurminder Parihar, who is running for the Liberals in Surrey and both wear turbans. Both candidates mentioned they have no hypothesis as to why there hasn’t been anyone elected in the legislature as turbaned Sikhs.

While across the country turbaned Sikhs have been elected at different levels of government.  No disrespect on this topic and to the candidates, but the focus always needs to remain on the issues first and not the other way around.  Why, even mention it at all.

Let it be a natural process and there is much more beauty in sharing what the turban represents. I fully support turbans in the RCMP and military and honour the past sacrifices made by turbaned Sikhs for our freedoms. The turban shouldn’t be pulled into a political debate. That is not the principal behind wearing one and it represents something much more meaningful than that.

When, Naranjan Grewall, the first South Asian elected politician to public office in 1950 in Canada, was elected he took a notice out in the local paper thanking the citizens of Mission City for this honour to serve and being the first Hindu as he phrased it at that time to public office.  He shared this with the public after he was elected, not asking them to elect him to make history to become the first Hindu to public office in Canada. There is much more honour and respect when a candidate is genuine in his/her quest to become a public servant.

If the candidates wearing a turban get the privilege and opportunity to serve on May 9th , we look forward to their public service and trust.

Parihar is quoted in the article as saying, “ It’s about time now we see a turban in the legislature.”

This kind of comment just further divides our communities and the cultural gap we are trying so desperately to close. The turban should not be the focus for the reason in getting elected. It just rubs the voters and people the wrong way, unfortunately.

It’s not only in the political arena were seeing this kind of message, but in others careers as well.  If there is any community that can break walls and barriers, it’s definitely the Sikh community and they have proved it time and time again around the globe. It s about always remaining humble and equal to everyone around us and that’s the vision we want to create in our multicultural communities. Where just talking about diversity at the present moment, we haven’t gotten to the stage of actually celebrating it, yet. That’s my hypothesis on this.

Ken “Kulwinder” Herar is a Mission-based writer and a winner of the champions of diversity award for his columns in the LINK newspaper and other Fraser Valley newspapers. Herar can be reached at[email protected] or view his blog at