MISSISSAUGA, Canada—The Sikh experience in the First World War will be the focus of a special, one-day exhibit happening later this month in Malton as part of Doors Open Mississauga.
Pardeep Singh Nagra, executive director of the Sikh Heritage Museum of Canada, said the ‘A Call to Flanders: Sikhs and the Great War’ exhibit will be on display at the organization’s location on Drew Rd. from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sept. 27.
It will have a number of artifacts, pictures, documents and other items from the First World War and will focus on the exploits of both Canadian Sikhs who fought for their country and those fighting with the British Indian Army.
Nagra said a large percentage of the soldiers from India who volunteered were from the Punjab region of India and a vast number of them were Sikhs.
“What’s fascinating is that Sikhs participated in all the major battles and theatres of the Great War,” said Nagra. “A number of Sikhs fought for Canada in World War I and we wanted to share their stories.”
Included in the exhibit are details on Canadian soldiers such as Goojar Singh, who fell in battle and was buried in Belgium.
There will also be details about soldiers such as Bukham Singh, who served with Canada and is buried in Kitchener-Waterloo. During the war, Singh contracted tuberculosis and was sent to a hospital in the Kitchener-Waterloo area to recover.
“It’s going to be quite exciting, we have over 100 original artifacts from (the war) including uniforms, books and (military) records.”
Also included in the exhibit is a feature on an Australian Sikh who earned two medals while fighting for his country in the First World War.
Nagra said the Sikh troops played a major role in the war and fought at a number of key battles including Vimy. For example, he said the number of troops India sent overseas was larger than a number of other British dominions such as Canada and Australia.
But, Nagra said, not everyone is aware of what they did and what they accomplished for their allies and their respective countries.
“Sikhs made a huge contribution and also a huge sacrifice and that’s very important to share,” he said.