Army cadet corps embraces Sikh tradition

3300 RCACC Sikh

Army cadets from 3300 RCACC stand ready to march in the Vaisakhi parade, which was part of the festival celebrations that took place on April 18 in Surrey, B.C. More than 250,000 people attend Vaisakhi celebrations in Surrey each year.

3300 British Columbia Regiment Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps in Surrey, B.C. celebrated the addition of the honour title “Bhai Kanhaiya” to their official name with a fundraising dinner held Friday, April 10.

The cadet corps is the first in Canada to be formed and supported by the Sikh community, although it is open to all youth.

The name Bhai Kanhaiya was chosen to honour a historical figure in the Sikh community. Bhai Kanhaiya (1648 – 1718) practiced Sewa, translated as selfless service, which is the spirit of generosity towards fellow human beings.

During the battle of Anandpur in 1704, Bhai Kanhaiya helped the wounded without discrimination for soldiers on either side of the battle.

He continued to be known for his tolerance, kindness and compassion with no distinction of religion, nationality, colour, caste or creed, and is now seen as a forerunner of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Cadets and staff of 3300 RCACC have embraced the idea of Sewa, or selfless service, as it encompasses the values of the cadet program.

“As we move forward, the Bhai Kanhaiya cadet corps will continue to serve as an inspiration for other programs, which embrace Canada’s multiculturalism, and offers young Canadians opportunities to interact with youth from other cultures,” said Harbinder Singh Sewak, chairman of the Friends of the Sikh Cadet Society.

The fundraising dinner was held on the eve of Vaisakhi celebrations, a traditional time of harvest and plenty, with an attendance of more than 400 guests.

The event was attended by the Minister of National Defence and Minister for Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney; Minister of National Revenue, Kerry-Lynne Findlay; Minister of State for Multiculturalism, Tim Uppal; and B.C. Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services, Amrik Virk, as well as other MPs, MLAs, municipal elected representatives, and community leaders.

Keynote speaker for the evening was Rear-Admiral Bill Truelove, champion for cadets in B.C., who spoke to the importance of communities supporting cadet corps, and congratulated the corps on their continued growth.

3300 RCACC was established in November 2012 with a program tailored to include Sikh culture and traditions.

The corps reflects the community it serves and is an example of the many ways in which the cadet program, and the Canadian Armed Forces, has embraced multiculturalism.

Capt Cheryl Major

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