Remembering Sacrifice of Sikh Soldier
Members of the Sikh community, first responders and members of the armed forces gathered at Mount Hope Cemetery in Kitchener on Sunday, November 5, to honour a Sikh military hero from the First World War and contributions of Sikh soldiers.
Private Buckam Singh, who immgrated to Canada in 1907 at age 14, was one of only nine Sikh soldiers to serve with the Canadian Armed Forces in the First World War. His grave site is the only military grave in Canada of a Sikh soldier from the World Wars.
Superintendent Andy Singh, who has been attending the annual ceremony for over 10 years, recognizes the importance of the ceremony.
“It speaks to the bigger scale of the forgotten soldier. The story of veterans and supporting our men and women in uniform,” Singh said. “And the story of Private Buckam Singh is one that resonates with everyone because he gave up his life in service for Canada.”
Chief Myron Demkiw, who attended the ceremony alongside TPS members including CAO Svina Dhaliwal and new Sikh TPS Chaplain Guljar Singh, said Remembrance Week is an important milestone across Canada.
“The importance of commemorating those who courageously fought for the freedoms we hold dear remains as crucial as ever,” he said.
Private Buckam Singh was injured twice in battles before eventually dying in a Kitchener hospital in 1919. Years later a historian found his medal and records of the contribution he made as a soldier.
Starting in 2008 the Sikh and military community united to honour his contributions and legacy.
Superintendent Mandeep Mann was able to lay a wreath at the ceremony with his twin brother, and Acting Captain Navraj Mann, of the Toronto Fire Services.
“The sacrifices of Sikh soldiers during the World Wars, including Private Buckam Singh, paved the way for my parents to immigrate to Canada,” he said. “This legacy is why my brother and I can proudly wear our uniforms and serve our communities.”