HARJIT SINGH SAJJAN is First Amritdhari Sikh Defense Minister of Canada


ONTARIO, Canada – Harjit Sajjan, a former police officer and veteran of three military deployments to Afghanistan, was named Canada’s new minister of defence on Wednesday, bringing first-hand expertise to one of the country’s top cabinet positions.

Sajjan will oversee an anticipated change in Canada’s military involvement in the battle against militants in Syria and Iraq. Newly sworn-in Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already said he wants to end Canada’s air strikes in the region in favour of providing humanitarian help. He took to Twitter to share his feelings.

Born in India and elected to Parliament for the first time in last month’s election, Sajjan is illustrative of the younger, more diverse cabinet Trudeau had aimed to create.

He is a Lieutenant-Colonel in Canada’s armed forces and was deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan and Bosnia-Herzegovina. He was Canada’s first Sikh commanding officer and received a number of recognitions for his service, including the Order of Military Merit.

Sajjan was also a police officer in Vancouver for 11 years, which included working as a detective in the gang crime unit. He won the riding of Vancouver South where he grew up, defeating a Conservative incumbent.

He is married with two children.

(With inputs from Reuters)