Sikh Remembrance Service Honours Soldier Laid to Rest in Kitchener

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Waterloo Region Record


Tue, Nov 06, 2016:
KITCHENER — Pte. Buckam Singh may have died with only a few of his fellow soldiers around him at a Kitchener hospital 97 years ago, but his life is commemorated each year by hundreds of area Sikhs.

About 300 people gathered at Mount Hope Cemetery Sunday to pay tribute at the final resting place of Singh, a Sikh soldier who died in Kitchener and is buried here.

Local Sikhs, as well as Sikhs from Brampton and the Greater Toronto Area, gathered at the gravesite to commemorate Singh and other Sikh soldiers who served and died for Canada.

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They shared prayers in Punjabi and children sang the national anthem and recited the war poem "In Flanders Fields." Dignitaries laid wreaths at his tombstone.

Const. Amrit Kapoor of the Toronto Police Service said he came to Kitchener to honour the Sikh soldier.

"I represent my service, my heritage and my community," he said. "I want others to see that a person like me can be a Toronto police officer. I want to give them encouragement that they can do anything they want."

Buckam Singh's story came to light a few years ago after Brampton's Sandeep Singh Brar purchased Singh's Victory medal from a pawnshop in London, England and, to his surprise, discovered that he had been a Canadian soldier.

Singh was wounded twice in the battlefields of France and Belgium — he took shrapnel in the head, and a bullet in the leg — but it was tuberculosis contracted in hospital that ultimately killed him.

He died at the Freeport military hospital. In the past, Brar has said Singh died alone, but at Sunday's service he said he's changed his mind after receiving an email a couple of weeks ago from a soldier who couldn't be at the ceremony because he is deployed in Egypt.

"He was with his family, his fellow soldiers. They were his family," Brar told the gathered group, relaying the deployed soldier's email comments.

Brar's research led him to Singh's grave in Kitchener. The annual service at the once-forgotten marker now stands as a tribute to not only Singh and his fellow Sikh soldiers, but to all who have served for Canada.

The ceremony also honoured Col. Amrik Singh Dhillon, who lived in Kitchener and died Oct. 30. His wife, Mohinder Kaur Dhillon, was presented with a framed photograph of her husband.

Dhillon served with the military in India and fought in the India-Pakistan war.

Twitter: @MonteiroRecord

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Related article: 

Reclaiming a Forgotten Hero: Pvt Buckam Singh

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