Members of the community gathered at the Mount Hope Cemetery in Kitchener to honour a Sikh military hero who chose to serve Canada a hundred years earlier.
The cemetery holds the only known First World War grave site of a Canadian Sikh veteran in the country. Private Buckam Singh was one of only ten Sikh soldiers to serve with the Canadian Armed Forces during the First World War. He was injured twice in battles and later died in a Kitchener hospital in 1919.
The 11th annual Sikh Remembrance Day Ceremony had people from across Canada in attendance. Members of the Toronto Police Service along with the Toronto Scottish Regiment, Royal Canadian Legion and Canadian Armed Forces were present for the ceremony.
“The ceremony is really about the Sikh community coming together to remember Canadian sacrifices made during the wars.” said Sundeep Singh Brar, who rediscovered Singh’s story over a decade ago when he found the soldier’s medal in a pawn shop.
Young children sang O Canada, a moment of silence was held. One of the speakers a Sikh veteran could not hold back his tears while speaking to the gathering.
It’s events like these that give the community an opportunity to give thanks to those who have served and are currently serving.
Sergeant Gorpal Sidhu said it was a powerful experience.
“It was a truly amazing and moving experience to be able to extend my gratitude for the ultimate sacrifice made by our soldiers at the grave site of Private Buckam Singh,” he said.
Sidhu, along with Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky and Waterloo MP Bardish Chagger, were among a dozen who laid wreaths at the gravesite.
“As a police officer and a son of a military officer it made me very happy and proud to see our retired Sikh Soldiers as well as the new generation of youth in the reserves and the armed forces in attendance.” said Sergeant Harjit Nijjar.