'We are a separate nation': Sikhs hold historic Khalistan referendum in Brampton

Sikhs searching for a homeland to call their own held a rally and referendum in Brampton, Ont., this past weekend.

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You might remember a few months ago, my colleague Lincoln Jay did an interesting report from a very poor part of Toronto called Moss Park, where there's a lot of homeless people. And there was this group of young guys, they were Sikhs who were serving free food.

“So, we're here practicing a key tenant of our faith called Seva. Seva is the selfless service to help others, and we're serving langar. The meaning of 'Langar’ is community kitchen and the community kitchen’s job is to serve meals,” said one of the guys serving food.

“It's a safe haven. It's a place for protection, a place where some of you can ask for help, guidance, any sort of advice. But the main tenant here we're practicing is Seva and doing Seva. This selfless service through langar, sharing of food, through the community kitchen. And we're here every Sunday from about noon to about 5 p.m.,” the man said.

Well, I was impressed with those guys, but I didn't know a lot about what Sikh sovereignty mean. I've always been interested in Sikhs. I know, for example, that one of Queen Victoria's most trusted personal bodyguards was Sikh. Sikhs proudly fought in the British Empire for centuries. And in Canada, there's a lot of Sikh Canadians who've come over in the last few decades.

I was invited by those same guys at the Sovereign Seva Soup Kitchen to go to a plebiscite, a non-binding referendum for Sikhs around the world, attempting to address the question of Sikh separation through a nationalistic idea for a homeland, called Khalistan.

And in Brampton, Ontario, not far from Toronto, thousands of Sikh Canadians gathered for this vote.

“So, back home in India, because it is a dirty politics and overpopulated country, people don't have their rights,” said one person who showed up for the referendum. “We want a separate state sovereignty as a Punjab.”

“We are a separate nation. We need a country. We have no country. I have heard there's about 230 countries and we are world's fifth largest and we have no country,” said another person there to support the cause.

“India is treating us as a second-class citizen. Same here we experience in past two years, like all these unvaccinated people, they're not complying with the system. They are being treated like second class citizens. And same thing is happening in India,” said a third gentleman.

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