Surrey (October 2, 2012): The World Sikh Organization of Canada is disappointed by the Department of National Defence's decision to reject plans of naming a Surrey cadet group the “3300 British Columbian Royal Army Cadet (Surrey Sikhs)”. The Department claims that the word “Sikh” would not be “all-inclusive”.
For the past two years, the Friends of the Sikh Cadet Corps Society and members of the Sikh community in Surrey have worked to initiate a cadet program for local children. In a meeting on September 13, the organizers were told that there was “hesitation” over including the word Sikh as it may insinuate non-Sikh youth can’t join.
The decision to disallow the term “Sikh” ignores the many existing military outfits with religious or ethnic names such as the 3012 Our Lady of Lourdes Army Cadet Corps, 2136 Canadian Scottish Regiment Army Cadet Corps or the 1st Hussars of London and Sarnia.
Sikh regiments have existed in the British and then Indian army since the mid-1800s and have included both Sikhs and non-Sikhs. The Sikh regiment was at one point, one of the highest decorated regiments in the British Empire.
WSO President Prem Singh Vinning said, “it’s unfortunate that the planned launch of the 3300 British Columbian Royal Army Cadet has been delayed over the use of the term ‘Sikh’. Being called the “Surrey Sikhs” would honour and celebrate the history of Sikh regiments and would be no different than names currently in use honouring other historic regiments such as the Highlanders, Irish or Hussars.”
WSO British Columbia Vice President Gurdit Singh Rangi said, “the decision by the Department of National Defence should be reviewed. Before making a decision on the inclusion of the term ‘Sikh’, greater consultation with the community needs to take place. The term “Sikh” shouldn’t be a bar to any Canadian who wishes to join this cadet group just as the term Highlander doesn’t bar anyone who is not of Scottish origins. This really shouldn’t be an issue.”
The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs, as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights for all individuals, irrespective of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, and social and economic status
Gian Singh Sandhu
Senior Policy Advisor