In recognition of Sikh heritage month, The Military Museums in southwest Calgary is hosting a temporary exhibit highlighting Sikh military history in Canada and around the globe.
Researchers at the museum worked alongside members of the local Sikh community and identified 10 Sikh soldiers who served Canada in the First World War.
“Those soldiers served overseas,” explained Captain Charan Kamal Singh Dullat of the Canadian Armed Forces. “They served in France, Belgium, all those major battles they were a part of. There were three of those ten soldiers who were sacrificed on those lands. Seven of them returned.”
The group encountered additional privacy and confidentiality hurdles while scouring the Second World War records but found two Sikh brothers from the Medicine Hat area who served.
“I feel these are the hidden heroes,” said Capt. Dullat. “These are heroes who are never pulled out from the history on display for us as Canadians to see.”
“Doesn’t matter what religion, what race, they belong to, they fought for justice. I think it’s very important for us as Canadians to know our history, not only as Sikhs, but as Canadians.”
The exhibit opened to the public Tuesday but a ceremony for its official opening is scheduled for Sunday, April 7 at 5:00 p.m. that will include a panel discussion with Sikh military members who are currently serving or retired. Admission will be free on Saturday, April 6 and Sunday, April 7.
Rory Cory, senior curator at The Military Museums, says visitors will encounter personal stories and family mementos.
“This display in particular, they’ve brought a lot of their own history to it so there’s a lot of family medals that have been loaned to the display. You really get a lot of community stories, it’s not just us telling generic stories,” said Cory. “We are telling the story of Sikhs who were born here in Canada who did join the Canadian military like Captain Dullat, for instance, and also people who served just in India.”
The 1897 Battle of Saraghari saw 21 Sikh soldiers with the Indian-British Army face an attack at the hands of an army of roughly 10,000 local tribesmen on what is now the border of Pakistan.
In recent years, the Military Museums has connected with members of the local Korean and Vietnamese communities for exhibits on the wars in their homelands and Cory says the initiative has proven successful.
“It’s a good chance for everyone else to learn about other communities in Calgary as well, other aspects of military history, other aspects of the historical community in general here ,” said Cory. “The more we learn about each other the richer we are as a community.”
For additional details on the display visit The Military Museums
With files from CTV’s Ina Sidhu