A Hero Named "Canadian"
Excerpts from Gurpreet Singh, People’s Voice
Born as Darshan Singh Sangha, Darshan will forever be known as "Canadian"; even after he returned to India in 1947, where he lived until his assassination by religious extremists on September 25, 1986.
Darshan Singh Canadian came to Canada for the same reasons as any other immigrant seeking a prosperous future. However, unlike most of immigrants, he sacrificed a comfortable future in Canada by returning to India, where he could better fight for the progress of his fellow countrymen, post-partition.
Darshan was a true product of his native village Langeri, Punjab; well known for being a breeding ground of revolutionaries like him. While in Canada, he joined the Young Communist League and the Communist Party.
During his years in Canada, Darshan played a critical role in bringing the IWA to this country. His impassioned speeches mobilized vast numbers of diverse ethnic communities to consolidate a previously-divided labour movement. The much-needed bridging of communities, led by Darshan on the streets and on the podiums, served as a tipping point for eventually winning improved minimum wages standards and a 40-hour work week for the common worker.
Canadian always had the power of the people behind him. His manual efforts similarly helped sway thousands of members among a diverse array of different groups to join in the successfully fight to give minorities the right to vote in BC.
What's more incredible is that Darshan was able to accomplish all this during a period in history when Indians were not even considered "Canadian" themselves.
While Darshan actively supported the Indian freedom struggle while in Canada, upon his return in 1947, he joined the Communist Party of India. With the support of his comrades in Langeri and beyond, “Canadian” eventually got elected to the Punjab legislative assembly.
Canadian challenged the ideology, and modus operandi, of the Sikh separatists seeking a “Khalistan” theocratic homeland in Punjab, close to the Indo-Pak border. Over 300 communists were systematically slaughtered for opposing religious sectarianism and terrorism, during a decade-long, pro-Khalistan movement.
As an elected official he raised issues of the common people and was a vocal critic of terrorism, risking his own life travelling across Punjab and speaking without fear or protection, during the height of bloody militancy.
Canadian also wrote many thought-provoking articles and pulled no punches in his essays. He clearly saw imperialistic designs behind the extremist forces in Punjab, which were getting their support from Pakistan and other countries.
If he wished, Darshan could have stayed in Canada to enjoy a much more comfortable lifestyle. Instead, he chose to return to his homeland, re-adopting the hardships of a third-world nation, for the sake of defending the poor and downtrodden of his homeland.
Darshan Singh Canadian died as a true communist fighter, without ever compromising his ideals, and died fighting the real war against terror face-to-face; never backing down from the terrorist elements that were trying to infect Punjab.
In Memory of a Hero's Sacrifice
30 years have passed and Shaeed Darshan Singh “Canadian” has been all but forgotten.
Mohan often reminisced about his mentor while in Langeri. It was important for him to preserve Darshan Canadian's legacy, so future generations could learn about his impact in both countries.
To commemorate Canadian's life, on September 25th, 2016, the Mohan S. Sangha Heritage Foundation will mark the 30th Anniversary of Canadian's assassination, by simultaneously unveiling two public art pieces in his adopted home of Vancouver, Canada, and birthplace of Langeri, Punjab.
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