THE World Sikh Organization of Canada welcomed the opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) in Winnipeg on Friday.
WSO legal counsel Balpreet Singh attended the inauguration on behalf of the organization.
The museum was the vision of Israel Asper who wished for a place where students could come to learn about human rights. In 2008 the CMHR was designated a national museum.
Several exhibits in the CMHR feature the story of Sikhs in Canada including the voyage of the Komagata Maru and the landmark decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Multani decision, allowing the wearing of kirpans in schools.
One of the exhibits of particular interest to Canadian Sikhs is on Jaswant Singh Khalra. Khalra exposed the disappearance and illegal cremations of thousands of Sikhs by Indian security forces and made his findings public in Canada in 1995 during a visit organized by WSO. Upon his return to India in September 1995, S. Khalra was himself abducted by the Punjab Police, held in custody for 40 days and then murdered.
A group of Canadian Sikh youth led by Moninder Singh of Surrey British Columbia and members of the Sikh Activist Network and Five River Youth worked with the CMHR to conceptualize the exhibit and make it a reality.
The WSO had suggested an exhibit on Khalra and his Canadian journey in a brief submitted to the CMHR in 2009.
WSO legal counsel Balpreet Singh said, the museum symbolizes the importance of human rights in Canada. It was moving to see stories of Sikh Canadians also feature so prominently amongst the displays. The CMHR deserves a visit from all Canadian families and particularly our youth.”
WSO President Dr. Amritpal Singh Shergill said, “It is a matter of great pride for Canadian Sikhs to see the story of Jaswant Singh Khalra included in the CHMR. We commend the efforts of Moninder Singh and the other young Sikh Canadians who worked so hard to make this exhibit a reality.”