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Sikh-Canadians Mark Remembrance Day





Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Pte. Buckam Singh may have died with only a few of his fellow soldiers around him at a Kitchener hospital 97 years ago, but his life is commemorated each year around Remebrance Day.

About 300 people gathered at Mount Hope Cemetery Sunday (November 6, 2016) to pay tribute at the final resting place of Sikh-Canadian WW1 war-hero Buckam Singh, a soldier who died in Kitchener after two stints on the war front in Europe, and his remains are buried here.

Local Sikhs and other Canadians, as well as those from Brampton and the Greater Toronto Area, gathered at the gravesite to commemorate Buckam Singh and other Sikh soldiers who served and died for Canada.

They shared prayers and children sang the national anthem and recited John McCrae's iconic war memorial poem, "In Flanders Fields." Dignitaries and citizens laid wreaths at his tombstone.

Const. Amrit Singh Kapoor of the Toronto Police Service said he came to Kitchener to honour the Sikh soldier.

"I represent my service, my heritage and my community," he said. "I want others to see that a person like me can be a Toronto police officer. I want to give them encouragement that they can do anything they want."

Buckam Singh's story came to light a few years ago after Brampton's Sandeep Singh Brar purchased Buckam Singh's Victory Medal from a pawnshop in London, England and, to his surprise, discovered that he had been a Canadian soldier.

Buckam Singh was wounded twice in the battlefields of France and Belgium -- he took shrapnel in the head, and a bullet in the leg -- but it was tuberculosis contracted in hospital that ultimately killed him.

He died at the Freeport military hospital. In the past, Sandeep has said Buckam Singh died alone, but at Sunday's service he said he's changed his mind after receiving an email a couple of weeks ago from a soldier who couldn't be at the ceremony because he is deployed in Egypt.

"He was with his family, his fellow soldiers. They were his family," Sandeep told the gathered group, relaying the deployed soldier's email comments.

Sandeep's research led him to Buckam Singh's grave in Kitchener. The annual service at the once-forgotten marker now stands as a tribute to not only Buckam Singh and his fellow Sikh soldiers, but to all who have served for Canada.

The ceremony also honoured Col. Amrik Singh Dhillon, who lived in Kitchener and died October 30, 2016. His wife, Mohinder Kaur Dhillon, was presented with a framed photograph of her husband.

[Courtesy: Kitchener Waterloo Record. Edited for]
November 7, 2016

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