While welcoming the Hon. Minister, Jagpal S Tiwana, President, MSS (Maritime Sikh Society) gave a brief history of the MSS emphasizing some of its its unique features. He stressed the point that MSS is a family affair, each member contributing according to his or her qualifications. Since 1968 when MSS was founded, executive has always been elected unanimously, a rare thing in Gurdwaras . Differences are sorted in a civilized way. There has never been a fist fight, kipans unsheathed or police called to restore peace. Women are treated at par with men in all affairs of the society. For four times a woman has been elected as its president. There is no professional Granthi. All work is done by volunteers.
Mr.Uppal spoke briefly about work of his department especially reforms he is introducing in the Senate. He also said that turban sometime creates problems to Sikhs, but in his case it worked to his advantage. He got a seat in the cabinet because of his turban. The Prime Minister, Stephan Harper, wanted to give representation to Sikhs in the cabinet, his choice fell on a turbaned Sikh. Now he has a seat exactly behind the Prime Minister in Parliament and thus a turbaned Sikh is visible to all who watch Parliament sessions on TV.
Some members asked questions on immigration, grandparents visit to Canada and the concerns regarding these issues. Questions on students from India and encouraging more immigrants to Nova Scotia were also raised. Though immigration is not in his area ofresponsibility, he was well informed on all immigration issues. He replied to all the questions earnestly explaining the policy of his government.
Though born and raised in Canada, Hon. Uppal with his blue turban and open flowing beard, looks like an Akali leader from Punjab. His down to earth approach, amiable and friendly disposition impressed one and all.
At the end, the hon. minister was presented with a Siropa by our senior member, Mrs. Stanam Randhawa.
Jagpal S Tiwana
Maritime Sikh Society