Jagmeet Singh's win opens doors for Canada's minorities

Analysts argue NDP's new charismatic leader has a long road ahead if he wants his party to win back seats in parlia...

Montreal, Canada - When Mita Naidu learned that Jagmeet Singh was elected as the new leader of Canada's New Democratic Party (NDP), her first thought was a simple, yet powerful, one: "There's hope for my children."

Naidu, who is of South Asian descent, also realised just how proud her father, who passed away last year, would have been to see his lifelong dream of a "multicultural Canada with equal opportunity for everyone" finally becoming a reality.

"I felt empowered for my children, and I felt hopeful about my father's dreams for the country," she told Al Jazeera by phone from Vancouver, where she lives with her children, aged 10 and 14.

"There's a sense of connection for people of colour. Now there's hope that perhaps an Aboriginal woman will one day have the potential to lead our country. He’s opened those doors," she said. 

On Sunday, the NDP announced that Singh had earned 53.6 percent of the vote in a months-long leadership race and was officially the party’s new federal leader.

It was a resounding vote of confidence for the 38-year-old provincial politician from Ontario. His closest challenger for the party's top spot garnered only 19.3 percent of 65,782 total votes cast.

A devout Sikh, Singh wears a turban and carries a kirpan, a religious dagger.

He is the first person of colour to lead a federal party in Canadian history and the World Sikh Organization of Canada hailed his victory as "a historical milestone" for Sikh-Canadians. 

"Just a generation earlier, many in our community could not have imagined a time where someone wearing the Sikh articles of faith would be so warmly accepted," the organisation said in a statement after the vote. 

For Naidu, who said her mother has worn a sari all her life, sometimes incurring racist remarks or ignorant stares, Singh's unapologetic show of his culture and heritage did not go unnoticed. 

"He represents the struggle of people of colour and what they've had to endure in this country, and how much time it's taken for people, immigrant communities, to really reach the top levels of the system," Naidu said.

But as the dust settles on the leadership contest, political analysts say the charismatic politician has a long road ahead if he wants the leftist NDP to win back seats in the House of Commons.