Sikh Computer Science Professor Honored for Contributions to Canadian Society

April 1, 2006

Source: Toronto Star

On April 1, 2006 the Toronto Star reported, "Karan Sher Singh's turban sometimes draws double takes when he's zipping around on Rollerblades. Not everybody connects the symbol of Sikhism, a faith followed by 300,000 Canadians, with outdoorsy modernity. But Singh's pop-culture cred can't be denied. An accomplished computer science prof at the University of Toronto, he was also technical director of the 2005 Oscar-winning animated short film Ryan, and one of the designers of Maya, 3-D graphics software that has been used by filmmakers from Steven Spielberg to George Lucas and Peter Jackson. 'I don't wear my turban to make a public statement. I just enjoy wearing it. I'm proud of wearing it because it's part of who I am,' says the 36-year-old Torontonian, one of nine high achievers to be honoured by the Sikh community at a sold-out Centennial Foundation gala tonight at The Carlu. 'Certainly we all have our stereotypes. I do get asked how I can speak such good English. Sometimes people just give you a double take because you look strikingly different from others.' While community awards come a dime a dozen in multicultural Toronto, foundation chair Parminder Batra, a corporate lawyer, says honouring people like Singh helps recognize the sometimes overlooked achievements of those who have contributed uniquely to the Canadian mosaic. Most important, says Batra, they help youth take ownership of their culture and heritage with confidence, and inspire them to succeed as well."