Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development and Minister Responsible for TransLink Peter Fassbender, on behalf of Premier Christy Clark, will present Sahib Thind, a well-known Surrey citizen, with the province’s newest honour, the Medal of Good Citizenship.
The ceremony will be held at 3:15 p.m. on Friday, March 17, in the Drawing Room at the Teahouse in Stanley Park, 7501 Stanley Park Dr., Vancouver.
Launched in July 2015 by Premier Clark, the prestigious Medal of Good Citizenship recognizes individuals who, through exceptional long-term service, have made outstanding contributions to their communities without expectation of remuneration or reward. The medal reflects their generosity, service, acts of selflessness and contributions to community life. Nominations for the Medal of Good Citizenship are accepted year-round.
Thind will be honoured with the medal for his dedication to his unwavering dedication to human rights.
For almost a quarter century he had been the driving force for a formal Parliamentary apology for the 1914 Komagata Maru incident in which hundreds of passengers from India who sought refuge in the country and province were denied entry to Canada and turned away without benefit of the fair and impartial treatment benefitting a society where people of all cultures are welcomed and accepted.
His foundation, the Professor Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation, criss-crossed Canada, and travelled abroad to bring attention to the cause and lobby for an official Parliamentary apology in various legislative assemblies, including those in B.C. and in the Indian State of Punjab. All of the travel costs were personally paid for by Thind.
The Professor Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation lobbied the B.C. provincial government for an apology for its role in this tragedy. After 94 years, the B.C. legislature unanimously passed a motion on May 23, 2008, apologizing for the Komagata Maru incident. “This house deeply regrets that the passengers who sought refuge were turned away,” said Liberal House Leader Mike de Jong.
In May 2016 the federal government apologized for the Komagata Maru incident and for his part in this struggle, Thind and his organization, has been recognized in the Punjab State legislature in India, and in the Canadian Parliament.
With the official Komagata Maru apology in hand, Thind is continuing his efforts, and expanding his actions to include issues faced by many other communities by working to establish diverse curricula in all Canadian provinces.
As well the non-partisan, non-denominational, human rights foundation hosts the Mela Gadri Babiyan Da in Bear Creek Park in Surrey, with Thind leading all organizational efforts. The festival, which invites South Asian performers from around the world, is attended by 70,000-100,000 festival-goers. It is all put on by volunteers, and the foundation charges no admission.
Premier Christy Clark –
“Sahib Thind is a steadfast champion for human rights, who understands that only by confronting the mistakes of our past, can we ensure future generations learn the right lessons from history. It was an honour to be present when Canada’s parliament formally apologized for the Komagata Maru incident, which happened in large part due to Sahib’s tireless efforts.”
Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, and chair of the Medal of Good Citizenship Selection Committee –
"The Medal of Good Citizenship recognizes the people in our province who generously and selflessly volunteer their time, effort and skills to make their community better. It was inspiring to work with the selection committee to review nominations and see how one person can make a difference. This year, as we celebrate Canada s 150th anniversary, it is important to recognize individuals who make their communities and, ultimately, their country better."
Peter Fassbender, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development and Minister Responsible for TransLink –
“Sahib Thind has shown that one person can change how we see and feel about events of the past. Through his dedication, all British Columbians can feel pride that proper recognition has been made about a deeply wounding injustice made against individuals who should have been treated with the kind of respect and dignity we have come to expect in our society.”
Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services –
“Honouring Sahib Thind with the Medal of Good Citizenship is another way that the Province can recognize the deep hurt that was done to a community more than 100 years ago when the Komagata Maru and its passengers were turned away. With his perseverance he has shown that it is never too late to heal history’s wounds, learn from past mistakes, and for a civil society to find a common path forward.”
Sahib Thind, Medal of Good Citizenship recipient –
“I am humbled to receive this honour. It will be shared with the diverse group of members of our secular, non-partisan human rights foundation. These men and women stood with us for almost a quarter century, as we worked to obtain an official commons apology for the Komagata Maru tragedy. Today, I thank them all. We will continue to support human rights and promote peace and harmony through our annual Mela (Festival) Gadri Babeyan Da, and our other efforts, both in Canada and abroad.”
- The Medal of Good Citizenship was launched in 2015 to recognize individuals who, through exceptional long-term volunteer efforts, have made outstanding contributions to the well-being of their communities.
- Nominations for the Medal of Good Citizenship are accepted year-round.
- An independent Selection Committee reviews nominations and recommends recipients.
- All regions in the province were represented on the Medal of Good Citizenship Selection Committee and members came from various professional backgrounds.
To learn more about the medal, or to nominate a good citizen in your community, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/medalofgoodcitizenship
To view photos of recipient ceremonies, visit: https://flic.kr/s/aHskw9MKjm
Find out more about previous recipients of the Medal of Good Citizenship: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/celebrating-british-columbia/honours-and-awards/medal-good-citizenship/recipients