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Canada Gets First Turban Wearing Sikh Woman As City Councillor Of Brampton

In the last two months Brampton city came to the news for alleged hate crimes and the Khalistan referendum organised by Sikh For Justice (SFJ), a banned separatist group in India.  

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Navjit Singh Brar, First Turban Wearing Sikh woman Councillor in Canada
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While the celebrations over the appointment of Rishi Sunak as the first Indian origin Prime Minister of the UK is in full force, India got another reason to flex its political prowess outside the border. Brampton city in Canada is going to have its first turban wearing Sikh woman councillor.

An Indo-Canadian healthcare worker, Navjit Kaur Brar won the Municipality elections in Ward No. 2 and 6 on October 24. Brar is a known respiratory therapist in the city and reportedly devoted herself in the service of the people during the Covid 19 period.

Brampton city recently came to the news for alleged hate crime where a park named after Bhagavad Gita had been vandalised just days after its inauguration.

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Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown who got re-elected for second term this time tweeted, “I am so proud of @Navjitkaurbrar. She was a selfless and dedicated front-line healthcare worker during the pandemic. She has stepped up for public service and I am confident she will be a phenomenal addition to Brampton City Council.”

According to the reports of PTI, Brar defeated her closest contender Jermaine Chambers, a former Conservative MP candidate for Brampton West. While the turban wearing Sikh woman got 28.85.% of the votes cast, Chambers received 22.59%.

Brar earlier fought elections from Ontario New Democratic Party but was lost to the Progressive Conservative Amarjot Sandhu who is currently a member of Ontario legislative assembly.

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However, the first timer councillor is not inexperienced in social work. Brar, who during her campaign reportedly knocked at more than 40,000 doors and spoke to 22,500 residents, after victory said, “I think a lot of people can relate to me. I'm just a respiratory therapist. I've actually worked with a lot of people. I'm a mom of three and a lot of people in Brampton are families.”

The new councillor, as she herself said, will have three priorities - building new infrastructure, reducing crime, and improving road safety. Expressing her desire to represents different demographics, she said, “I’m excited. I'm so proud of all Bramptonians who have voted, making sure our voices are being heard more than ever before.”

Poor Voter turnout, Elections overlapping with Diwali

Whereas on one hand the celebration of Brar’s victory is there, the poor voter turnout in the city is a matter of concern for both the Canadian city councils and the local residents.

As per the convention, the elections of municipality councils in Brampton is held every four years on the fourth Monday of October. But this time coincidentally it clashed with Diwali on October 24. The councillors along with the residents though flagged off their concerns, polling was not stalled.

“It is very problematic that the elections are taking place on Diwali day, especially the municipal election that has always seen a low voter turnout,” said Gurpreet Singh Toor, another Sikh woman candidate who has become councillor from ward no 9 and 10.

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As per the reports almost 40 Punjabis fought for the municipal elections but the voter turnout was extremely poor. Only 87,155 of the 354,884 eligible voters turned up to cast their votes- representing a voter turnout of 24.56%.

Brampton in news over controversies

On October 2, when the world was celebrating Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, Brampton city came to news for all wrong reasons. On September 28, a park in the city earlier known as Troyers Park was renamed as Shri Bhagavad Gita Park.

Within two days some miscreants vandalised the stand where the new name of the park was written. The Indian Commission in Canada immediately condemned the action.

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However, the city mayor Patrick Brown very next day clarified that it was done by a builder as an intermediate effort before replacing the permanent name plate with Shri Bhagavad Gita park.

Prior to that on September 19 Sikh For Justice (SFJ), a banned Sikh separatist group in India held a referendum in Brampton in favour of Khalistan triggering harsh rection from the Indian Government.

As per the 2011 census reports half of the Canada’s Sikh population could be found in four cities- Surrey, Brampton, Calgary and Abbotsford.

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