A human rights lawyer seeking election would become the first turbaned Sikh MLA in the B.C. legislature if he wins the Oct. 24 election. It would be a historic moment for Sikhs, who have been fighting for the right to wear a turban at work.
NDP candidate Aman Singh, running in Richmond-Queensborough, lost the 2017 election to Liberal incumbent Jas Johal by only 134 votes.
Johal is also Sikh but does not wear a turban.
B.C. had its first Sikh premier, Ujjal Dosanjh, but he does not wear a turban either. The NDP continues to lead in the polls. Singh remains highly popular within the South Asian community, which has a sizable population in the riding he is contesting, for several reasons.
He was instrumental in drafting the petition that led to the historic apology in the House of Commons for the turning away of the Komagata Maru in 1914.
A Japanese vessel carrying more than 300 South Asian passengers was forced to return to British-ruled India by Canadian authorities, under discriminatory immigration laws that were passed to discourage migration from India.
In May 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made an official apology in Parliament to the South Asian community.
Singh also helped draft a petition seeking recognition of India’s 1984 state-sponsored Sikh massacre as genocide. Thousands of Sikhs were murdered across India following the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. The Sikh diaspora in Canada and elsewhere has been fighting for justice and closure for decades.
But Singh is not just vocal about Sikh issues. He remains a staunch critic of systemic racism against Indigenous Peoples in Canada and has advocated for the rights of those challenging controversial pipeline projects that are being pushed through their traditional lands without their consent.
Since he was born in Hong Kong, he has some grasp of Cantonese and has repeatedly denounced racism being faced by people of Asian origin, especially the Chinese since COVID-19 broke out.
He is equally vocal on the rights of the people of Palestine, who continue to face the Israeli occupation of their homeland.
As a turbaned Sikh, he has a first-hand understanding of racial discrimination and prejudices, and hopes to address these problems boldly if he wins the provincial election.