Canadian Brig Gen Parsons's Recruiting Pitch to Halifax Sikhs

November 29, 2006

Author: Jagpal S Tiwana

Source: SikhNet News

On the invitation of the Maritime Sikh Society, Halifax, Canada, two army officers, Brig. Gen. Rick Parsons and Major Harjit Singh Sajjan, visited its Gurdwara on Nov. 26, 2006. There was quite a concern among the Sangat about the safety of Canadian troops deployed in Afghanistan. They wanted to send them cheering messages in X-Mas time. Another part of the desire to show our support for the troops was more personal in that our president, Martin-Jarnail Singh, had done all his public schooling with Pte. Nathan Smith who was one of the first Canadian soldiers to die in Afghanistan.

Army officers' visit turned out a very exciting event with Canadian media, CBC, ATV and representatives of the Press all over the place. Brig.- Gen. Rick Parsons, commander of Land Force Atlantic Area, advised the press that to send troops to different places is the decision of the Government. As soldiers they are supposed to accept orders and perform their duties. In Afghanistan there is definitely an improvement in the situation. There is social equality, justice and improvement in the overall quality of life for many Afghanis. In his presentation, Brig.- Gen. Rick Parsons hinted at the opportunities for ethnic groups in the army. The Brig.-Gen knew about Sikhs and their preference for army careers.

Maj. Harjit Singh Sajjan discussed how his Sikh heritage helped break down barriers with local Afghan villagers. " They were happy to see that somebody who they would normally look at as a Sikh . . . ( was) wearing a Canadian uniform," he told reporters. " And they saw that as a little bit of hope for them."

He said speaking about the Canadian mission at a religious ceremony was "actually very appropriate" considering Sikhs' history of helping others.