Chandigarh, March 16
Brian Lilley, Toronto Sun political journalist, tweet about NDP leader Jagmeet Singh’s turban colour has not gone down well within the Sikh community. They called it "insensitive", "inappropriate" and “hurtful”.
A parliamentary committee on Wednesday, which included Singh, gathered to hear testimony from Loblaws CEO Galen Weston about soaring food inflation and insecurity in Canada.
Political columnist Brian Lilley tweeted a picture of New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jagmeet Singh with the caption, "Jagmeet looks like he wore his No Name turban today just to grill Galen Weston at committee".
Galen Weston is the CEO of George Weston Limited and executive chairman and president of Loblaws. He had appeared in front of the parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture.
"I know he changes the colours for special days or occasion (sic) but didn't expect to see No Name yellow today. Is it on purpose or a coincidence?" Lilley said.
Gurpreet Kaur Rai, a spokesperson for the World Sikh Organization, told Omni news channel that Lilley's comments were "extremely insensitive, inappropriate, and hurtful".
"Our turbans, irrespective of colour, are not 'No Name'," former Ontario MPP Gurratan Singh tweeted.
He tried to say that our Turbans are, No Name, a budget brand.— Gurratan Singh (@GurratanSingh) March 10, 2023
But he doesn't understand that our Turbans make us royal, Kings and Queens - and they remind us of our duty to always fight for justice and stand up for equality.
Our turbans, irrespective of colour are not, “No Name”.— Gurratan Singh (@GurratanSingh) March 9, 2023
By wearing a turban we are named Singh and Kaur. They are a sign of honour to signify our commitment to truth, justice and equality.
When we wrap it around our heads we stand taller and prouder.
This tweet is just wrong. https://t.co/3xKbEZlMD1
"Dear Toronto Sun, please come get your guy... This is beyond offensive!" Ravi Kahlon, British Columbia's Minister of Housing, wrote in a tweet.
Responding to Lilley's tweet, Jagmeet Singh wrote: "I've had lots of great conversations about why I wear a turban and what it means. But some people try to make us feel less than... I think of how that hurts kids especially." While Lilley deleted the tweet and apologised, his responses to criticism of the tweet still remain.
I’ve had lots of great conversations about why I wear a turban and what it means.— Jagmeet Singh (@theJagmeetSingh) March 10, 2023
But some people try to make us feel less than. I think of how that hurts kids especially.
To them I say:
Be who you are.
Have pride in all you bring to the table.
You belong. pic.twitter.com/BhXKYjERO0
"I have deleted a previous tweet that has caused controversy and been seen as insensitive. That was not the intent and I apologise to those who I offended. The tweet has therefore been deleted," he wrote.
Responding to a Twitter user, he wrote: "Wanna explain what is racist about this? I'll guess you know zero Sikhs. How is noting the colour of his turban, which changes regularly, racist?"
Check out my No Name turban. #RacismWillNeverBeTolerated https://t.co/jF1sTnLwpL pic.twitter.com/eFzMsS8g9d— Harjit Sajjan (@HarjitSajjan) March 9, 2023
According to data released by Statistics Canada from the census data of 2021, there are over 7.71 lakh Sikhs in Canada.
Of these, over 2.36 lakh (30 per cent) are Canadian citizens by birth, over 4.15 lakh are immigrants (permanent residents) and over 1.19 lakh are non-permanent residents.
Between 2006 and 2016, the number of Punjabi-speaking citizens in Canada grew from 3.68 lakh to 5.02 lakh, a growth of 36.5 per cent.
Punjabi has for years been the third-most spoken language in Canada, after English and French.
Last year, the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba passed the Turban Day Act, stating that April 13 will be celebrated as Turban Day across the province every year to spread awareness against racism that Sikhs face in the country due to their articles of faith.
With IANS inputs
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