The current disclosure in the Parliament of the withholding of multiculturalism grants to Sikh Organizations and federal dollars to match funds raised by the private sector for the establishment of a Chair in Sikh studies at the University of British Columbia, brings into focus the discriminatory treatment the Sikh minority continues to suffer in Canada at very high levels.

An undersecretary in External Affairs department admittedly wrote the Multiculturalism ministry warning against reactions of the Indian government should a Chair in Sikh Studies at the University of British Columbia go ahead.

Sadly enough none of the opposition parties have taken up this scandalous and grievous issue with the seriousness that it deserves. It is a tacit admission by Canadian political leaders that it is all right to shape Canadian domestic government in line with the influence of a pseudo super foreign power, and in the act let a minority people, the Sikhs, suffer within Canada.

Owing to the ongoing political struggle of Sikhs in the Indian subcontinent for a home country, the administration of government policy in various departments, such as External Affairs and Multicultural, is appearing more and more to be weighed in favor of a foreign power, the government of India, the stronger of the partisans to the struggle.

A more uncritical, amoral and shameful policy and attitude is hard to imagine. In a way, this is quite in character for Canada which distinguishes itself for following the line of least resistance in any momentous decisions. But the growing Canadian nation cannot suffer this infantile policy mutely. The coming of age for Canada can only be achieved by the quality and calibre of its political leaders.

The Standing Committee on Multiculturalism must understand that Sikhs area people and a nation, though without a territorial sovereign country of their own which they did have at one time just a little over hundred years ago. Therefore, in this category none of the other area groups, religious or ‘ethnic’, really matches the Sikhs.

The Sikhs thus cannot see themselves being relegated for their multicultural representation to an in definitive and vague organization such as the NACOI. infract, the wishful concept of Sikh representation by NACOI would exactly fill the foreign policy bill of the Indian government. This is what the Canadian Sikhs would never submit to.

The Sikhs are a unique race, culture and religion and history. The closest comparison is borne by such people as the Kurds, the Basques, Ukrainians, the Kazakhs all those historic people with distinct and strong cultures, a positive political past, plus, more importantly, a continuous group ambition programmed for the future on behalf of the entire racial linguistic religious cultural political group.

These are the “ethnic” attributes which no Canadian ministry, Multicultural or other, will find amongst the purported NACOI components notwithstanding the implicit administrative simplicity of dealing with such an organization. In fact the idea belies the very basis and concept of multiculturalism. To attempt to confuse it with a “secular” character is to further obscure the spirit of Multiculturalism. On the other hand, Indian foreign policy could be well served by this set up, so Canadian multicultural view ends up overshadowed by foreign politics.


Yet despite NACOI, there are obviously dozens of other independent Hindu, Muslim and Christian organizations of South Asians flourishing in the Canadian ethnic mosaic. SIKHS ARE NOT THE ONY EXCEPTION

Could it be that the White majority politicians are subconsciously wanting to color code multiculturalism? The standing committee’s reported insistence that Sikh people should be seeking representation via NACOI (Association of Canadians with origins in India) seems to suggest just such a sinister inference. So, there is an organization for the Advancement of the Blacks; there is an organization, NACOI, for the browns of the subcontinent, and the whites are of course in favor of keeping things simple on their own turf!

Try imagining an organization of “people with Origins in the Middle East”, similar to NACOI that seeks to monopolies the Indian subcontinent’s emigrants.

Would Ottawa dare telling Arabs and Jews that multiculturalism is predicated on the region of origin and unconcerned with a people and their culture?

It is about time the Mulroney government tried to understand the Canadian Sikhs and see the inequity of Canadian multicultural policy towards them.


Beware of



Article extracted from this publication >>  January 9, 1987