A Surrey cadet has met the Three Amigos.
Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) Simran Gillar, the top ranking cadet of the 3300 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps (RCACC), represented B.C. Cadets in Ottawa during the “Three Amigos” North American Leaders’ Summit on June 29.
She and other select cadets and youth leaders from across the country met with dignitaries in the VIP lounge on Parliament Hill.
“We got to chit chat with all the big people,” she said. “The defence minister (Harjit Sajjan) was there and other dignitaries. I had the opportunity shake hands with U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but no photos sadly. They did not have enough time for that.”
She also got to meet and greet Mexican President Enrique Peňa Nieto.
“We were seated in the public gallery and witnessed the speeches made in the House of Commons, which was splendid. Many standing ovations… After all that, the cadets were the only people who later got to enjoy a tour of Parliament Hill and the Peace Tower.”
Gillar is The Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) of the 3300 BC Regiment (Bhai Kanhaiya) RCACC of Surrey, Canada’s first ever Army Cadet corps formed and supported by the Sikh community.
Gillar adds she is humbled and honoured to have had the opportunity.
She rounded off her trip by participating in the Hadfield Youth Summit, a leadership and youth development event, and enjoyed the Canada Day celebrations in the nation’s capital with other cadets before returning to B.C. to spend her summer working at cadet camp.
Maj. Lee Taylor, commanding officer of the 3300 RCACC, said Gillar was selected because she exemplifies the qualities of good leadership and works hard mentoring youth in her corps.
“That our RSM got to be in Ottawa, rubbing elbows rubbing elbows with all the leaders of North America, including President Obama and Mexico’s president, and to have 3300 representing the Army Cadets of B.C. is a testament to how the corps leadership are developing our youth. CWO Gillar is one great example.”
Celebrating South Asian contributions to B.C.’s shared history
The South Asian contribution to the province’s and the country’s shared history will be on permanent display in the B.C. legislature after today’s announcement by Premier Christy Clark that an historically symbolic flag would be installed inside the Parliament Buildings.
The 1874 version of the Red Ensign flag is one of the first Canadian flags to display the emblem of British Columbia after the province joined Confederation in 1871.
The flag was presented to the province by Steven Purewal, founder of Indus Media Foundation Canada, in honour of the contributions made to British Columbia, Canada, and the British Crown by the Punjabi community.
Many early South Asian Sikh pioneers were veterans of colonial Punjabi regiments that had served the Crown since 1849, when Punjab became part of the British Empire.
They came to Canada looking for a better life, but faced difficult conditions. In 1914, the Komagata Maru ship carrying 376 passengers from India was turned away from the port in Vancouver. In 2008, the B.C. Legislature formal apologized for the incident.
During the First World War Punjabi soldiers were fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with Canadians. They suffered enormous losses – and in death, 100 years after the war, they lie beside their Canadian brothers-in-arms in 17 cemeteries scattered across French and Belgian Flanders.
“This centennial is an opportunity to commemorate those who lost their lives, but also to engage today’s youth and diverse communities about the significance of the sacrifices that were made,” said Purewal. “During WWI, nearly 500,000 Punjabis fought in a joint cause with Canada, despite the discriminatory conditions prevailing at the time — their service and notion of duty was truly remarkable.”
Premier Clark and Purewal were joined by members of Surrey-based 3300 British Columbia Regiment (Bhai Kanhaiya) Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps, along with leaders from B.C.’s Sikh communities.