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Back From Afghanistan, Sikh-Canadian Takes Command of Canadian Regiment




In a history making  ceremony, a change of command in the British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught's Own) took place on Sunday, September 11, 2011, at the Beatty Street Armoury in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Lt.-Col. Bruce Kadanoff relinquished command of the regiment to Lt.-Col. Harjit Singh Sajjan, who has taken over as Commanding Officer of the Regiment.

Lt.-Col. Harjit Singh joined the British Columbia Regiment as a Trooper in 1989 and was commissioned in the Regiment in 1991.  He was promoted to Captain in 1995 and to Major in 2005. He has served in Bosnia-Herzegovina as well as three deployments to Afghanistan.

Most recently, in November 2010, he was requested to serve in Afghanistan as the Special Assistant to U.S. Army Major-General James Terry, Commanding General of  the 10th Mountain Division and Commander of Regional Command South.

The British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught's Own) is a Primary Reserve armoured reconnaissance (recce) regiment of the Canadian Forces; the regiment is subordinate to 39 Canadian Brigade Group of Land Force Western Area.

Established in 1883, it is the oldest military unit in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

It parades at the Beatty Street Drill Hall at the corner of Dunsmuir and Beatty in Downtown Vancouver. The regiment has been variously designated as garrison artillery, rifles, infantry, and armoured, but has been reconnaissance since 1965.

It has received forty battle honours in its history, and has been a formation of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps since 1942.



Son of Sardar Kundan Singh Sajjan and Sardarni Vidya Kaur, Lieutenant-Colonel Harjit Singh was born in Punjab. He moved to Canada at the age of five and grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia.

In 1989, he enlisted in The British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own).

In 1990, he was accepted for Commissioning in the regiment and successfully completed the RESO Officer Training Programme in 1991 at the Combat Training Centre in CFB Gagetown. He then went on to serve as a Troop Leader in Reconnaissance Squadron, was promoted to Captain in 1995 and appointed as the squadron’s Battle Captain.

In 2004 he was appointed Adjutant, completing the Militia Command and Staff College course at Kingston and promoted to Major in 2005.

He was appointed as Officer Commanding Reconnaissance Squadron in 2007, and then as Regimental Second-in-Command in 2009.

To date, he has completed four operational deployments.

His first deployment was to Bosnia-Herzegovina on Operation PALLADIUM in July 1997. He served as Liaison Officer, Reconnaissance Squadron, Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians). During his pre-deployment workup training for Bosnia, he also deployed to Winnipeg to fight the floods in 1997 and served as the Quick Reaction Force Commander for the
LdSH(RC) Task Force.

In February 2006, he deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan on Operations ARCHER & ATHENA as a Special Intelligence Officer on the staff of Brigadier-General Fraser, Commander Regional Command South.

In 2009, he embarked on his second deployment to Afghanistan, serving as Special Advisor to Brigadier-General Vance,
Commander Task Force Afghanistan.

Lieutenant-Colonel Harjit Singh's most recent deployment to Afghanistan was in November 2010 at the request of Major-General James Terry, Commanding General of 10th Mountain Division and Commander Regional Command South. He served on General Terry’s Command Team as a Special Assistant.

In the course of his deployments Lieutenant-Colonel Harjit Singh has been awarded a Mentioned-in-Dispatches, Commander in Chief Commendation, two Chief of Defence Staff Commendations and a US Army Commendation. He is also the recipient of the Deputy Minister’s (National Defence) Award.

He was appointed an Aide-de-Camp to the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia in 2001.

Lieutenant-Colonel Harjit Singh was a police officer for 11 years with the Vancouver Police Department. He completed his last assignment as a Detective specializing in organized crime in the Gang Crime Unit. He also spent five years as a certified Technical Search Specialist with Vancouver’s Heavy Urban Search and Rescue Team.

Lieutenant-Colonel Harjit Singh is a Security Consultant lecturing to a wide audience, including specialised briefings on Counter-Insurgency Operations to both Canadian and US government agencies.

Harjit Singh is married to Kuljit Kaur, a medical physician, and they reside in Vancouver. They have a daughter named Jeevut Kaur who is three, and a newborn son named Arjun Singh.


September 13, 2011


Conversation about this article

1: T. Sher Singh (Mount Forest, Ontario, Canada), September 13, 2011, 10:26 AM.

History has its strange twists and turns, each loaded with irony and dripping with poetic justice. This is the same regiment that fought alongside Sikh sant-sipahis in Ypres, Flanders, etc., during the First World War. Those Sikh soldiers from Punjab - from where Harjit Singh originally hails - many of whom constituted the vanguard in those battles, have yet to be given due recognition for their extraordinary sacrifices. To a small but appreciable degree, history has come full circle in the person of Sardar Harjit Singh. In more ways than one, the spirit of tens of thousands who gave life and limb during those battles, lives on in this extraordinary young Sikh-Canadian.

2: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), September 13, 2011, 10:57 AM.

The Sikh saint-soldier has served the world well, whenever he has been needed. The Khalsa laid the foundation of such seva. It was estimated by an Indian Army officer that, for example, just three Divisions of Sikh soldiers could defeat the entire Pakistani Armed Forces. Sikhs everywhere should encourage their children to serve the armed forces in their respective homelands.

3: Kirpal Singh (Daytona Beach, Florida, U.S.A.), September 13, 2011, 12:04 PM.

It really makes me feel proud with my own spiritual brother commanding a Canadian regiment, reflecting in fullest glory of the Khalsa! Congratulations to Col. Harjit Singh, his family ... and Canada.

4: Kabir Singh (New York, U.S.A.), September 13, 2011, 7:10 PM.

This is a great article pertaining to Lt-Col Harjit Singh, o a Sardar taking command of the British Columbia Regiment. There's a message in this for our youth - that a Sikh can achieve anything in this world by retaining the full discipline of their faith, even in a fiercely competitive world.

5: Sonal (Chandigarh, Punjab), September 14, 2011, 5:06 AM.

Congratulations, Sardar Harjit Singh. I am working with a news channel in Punjab. Want to know the name of the place in Punjab he hails from. Anyone?

6: K.P. Singh (Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S. A.), September 14, 2011, 8:48 AM.

It is heartening to learn about the many recognitions and rewards being bestowed on distinguished Sikhs around the world: The Singh Twins appointed Members of the Order of British Empire, Sardar Indarjit Singh appointed to the British House of Lords, Lt. Col. Harjit Singh being made the Commanding Officer of the British Columbia Regiment ... and so on. These are Guru Nanak's prayer manifest before us: "Go scatter to the ends of the earth, spread goodness, serve and bring hope and healing to mankind." These are Guru Gobind Singh's Punj Hazaris and Duss Hazaris excelling in fields and places, in the global Hola Mohallas of our times. They make us proud by achieving the impossible, but then again, in the words of the celebrated Sikh icon and marathon runner Fauja Singh, "impossible is nothing," when we serve and strive in humility.: When God's Grace is upon us, the undreamed-of becomes manifest before us. These heroes belong to all humanity and they are our pride and joy. May Waheguru bless them many honors and inspire our future generations to walk in their light and achieve even greater things in times to come, always remembering the lessons and spirit of the Sikh faith: "All victories belong to God" and "with God, all is possible". Let our endeavors be a celebration of blessings and offerings at the lotus feet of the Guru. Our congratulations to all who strive and serve. May God keep them safe and a shining example for us to follow and create our own footsteps with God's blessings, bring honor to our Gurus, community, and humanity. T. Sher Singh ji: Thank you for uplifting our every morning with tidings of joy, news of reflection, and reminders of challenges that concern us as a human family.

7: Sajjan Singh Bhangoo (Sacramento, California, U.S.A.), September 14, 2011, 9:23 AM.

Congratulations! We are proud of your achievements. Keep it up. Please convey my personal compliments to your parents who have been out of touch for some time. You were a teenager when we met you last.

8: Gurpartap (Sunny) Singh Gulati (Seattle, WA, U.S.A.), September 14, 2011, 12:17 PM.

Congratulations, Harjit Singh and Kuljit Kaur. You have really made us proud.

9: Amarjit Kaur (Seattle, WA, U.S.A.), September 14, 2011, 12:48 PM.

This is in response to Sonal (Chandigarh, Punjab), on September 14, 2011, asking about Harjit's family roots in Punjab. Harjit Singh and his family hail from Village Bombeli in District Hoshiarpur.

10: Jas Grewal (California, U.S.A.), September 14, 2011, 2:33 PM.

Sikh have always and continue to reach top positions, wherever they have made their home. They have migrated to the Far East as well as the African continent, long before migrating in large numbers to to North America and Europe. Many of those early pioneers in those countries reached top levels in law enforcement, including in Singapore and Malaysia. Currently, the police chief of Kuala Lumpur is a Sardar, Datuk Amar Singh. I think we desperately a writer/ historian to document these high achievers all over the world. Photos and artefacts are still to be found from those early pioneers. Something needs to be done about preserving our history before its too late.

11: Ajit Singh Liddar (Mississauga, Ontario, Canada), September 14, 2011, 4:42 PM.

Harjit ji: you have made the Sikh community proud. A Sardar commanding a Royal Canadian Regiment is a dream come true. May Akal Purakh grant you more successes in the future.

12: Bhupinder Singh Liddar (Brampton, Ontario, Canada), September 14, 2011, 5:11 PM.

What an honor for Sikhs around the world and a testimony to a marvelous country, Canada, which is indeed setting an example for the rest of the world.

13: Baldev Singh Vij (San Diego, California, U.S.A.), September 20, 2011, 1:08 AM.

Congratulations, Lt. Col. Harjit Singh, for the awards of your sincere and hard work and being a true Sikh and soldier. You have established an example for our new generation that you can practice your faith fearlessly and still reach the high altitudes, both spiritually and in your career. Now you have a responsibility, and that is to pass on your example to young Sikh children wherever and whenever you get an opportunity to do so. May Waheguru bless you further success in your career and good health to you and your family.

14: Paramjit Singh Rana (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada), October 10, 2011, 2:15 AM.

I just learnt this exciting and thrilling news today. Because the achievement of Lt. Col. Harjit Singh is so remarkable and outstanding for the Sikh community world wide that I had to read this story and the posted comments a few times to internalize what it really signifies. Lt. Col. Harjit Singh's achievement is a reminder to every Sikh across the world that you have inside you the spirit that Guru Gobind Singh infused in us - and that spirit is to stand up and serve humanity by preserving and promoting peace and harmony without being discriminatory to any caste, colour, gender or creed. Let us work to rekindle this Guru's spirit in us and make whatever positive contribution we can make to the local and global communities whereever we live. Finally, my congratulations to the new Commanding Officer, his family and his parents. Also I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Lt. Col. Harjit Singh for helping to revive the spirit that Dasam Guru instilled in us to serve and protect through his service to the Canadian Army since 1989. Our best wishes to you and your family. May Akalpurkh bless you!

15: Swaran Ludher (Perth, Australia), February 06, 2012, 1:41 AM.

Congratulations, Harjit. Keep the Sikh Nishaan flying high. As a fellow Sikh (formerly from Malaysia, where Sikhs have regularly held high ranks in the police and armed forces), I wish you every success in your future advancement.

16: Gurdeep Singh Saini (Mumbai, India), November 27, 2012, 11:22 AM.

Congratulations for your achievement. I want to congratulate your parents because they are the backbone of your Sikhi. You are an international hero, a role model for all around the globe.

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