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The link Newspaper Date November 17,1993

APOLOGY FROM SURREY CITY COUNCIL


“During the World War II in north Africa fought with turbans in the thick of the
battle. They were excluded from wearing a helmet. Years later, invited to take
part in an occasion to remember those who died valiantly, the very Sikhs are asked
to remove their turbans“
These comments are from Lieutenant Colonel Pritam Singh Jauhal, one of the Veteran
Sikhs who was denied entry to the Legion reception unless he took off his turban
-.which he politely but firmly refused to do.
The discrimination faced by the five turbaned Sikhs at the War Veteran’s event, on
November 11, 1993, has stirred a hornet’s nest. The issue has been denounced by
Mike Harcourt, B C Premier, a motion of apology has been issued by the Surrey City
Council to the Sikh Community and here at the Link we have received a massive
response by Politicians, other Veterans and the general public.
On Monday, the Surrey City Council carried unanimously a motion of apology to the
Sikh Community for what it termed as the “most unfortunate incident that happened
at the Newton Legion”.
An apology motion was introduced by Councillor Marvin Hunt, also a Mayority
candidate, at the Council Meeting. In his statement, Mr Hunt said, “ The Sikh
turban was not an issue when the Commonwealth Forces fought in Hong Kong, it was
not an issue when they fought in North Africa or Germany, it was not an issue when
they were decorated by the Queen for their bravery and heroism in the midst of all
the battles and all the Wars they fought”
“I just think it appropriate for us, at the beginning of this meeting that we, on
behalf of Council and the Non-Sikh Community, extend our apologies for that
incident.
Also on Monday, Premier Harcourt said that Royal Canadian Legion bylaws denying
entry to turbaned Sikhs are ’archaic’ and should be changed. “Her Majesty has made
it very clear that she feels no discomfort whatsoever when Sikhs appear before Her
at Buckingham Palace with their turbans on. I certainly think that bylaw should be
changed.
Following a similar incident that took place two years ago at a White Rock Legion
Branch, Surrey resident John Pippus received a letter from Buckingham Palace after
writing about the issue to the Queen. In that letter, the Queen’s aide Robin
Janvrin wrote, “ I can confirm that many Sikhs have been invited to Buckingham
Palace over the years. They are not asked to remove their turbans”
Pippus confirms that member of the White Rock Branch have still not changed the
headgear rule.
Newton Legion Branch head Frank Underwood said the rule against headgear was
imposed as a sign of respect to the Queen and the to Canada’s War dead. However,
Underwood has said the headgear bylaw will be discussed at its monthly meeting
tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Greg Horgan of Dominion Command in Ottawa, the Administrative arm of
the Legion’s 1700 branches nationwide, said local branches should adjust to
changing times.” We have repeatedly stressed to members the importance of being
flexible and using common sense, especially when you invite people to your place”
said Hogan.
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This is how an Apology be arranged? At present, many groups have been formed
within the Sikh Community. Each Group is advocating Community issues keeping in
mind its own interests. In this fashion, the Community can never be successful.
They must learn to be united by doing away present leadership.
Lieut Colonel Pritam Singh Jauhal (Retd) World War II Veteran
Founding President Indian E x-Servicemen Society British Columbia