Jubilee winner rejects honour
Kaur, author of What Would Gandhi Do? said she is returning the medal – presented to her at a Feb. 1 ceremony at Surrey’s Grand Taj Banquet Hall – as a matter of conscience, protesting the British monarchy’s historic subjugation of many peoples around the world, including her native India and Canada’s First Nations.
The event, hosted by Surrey NDP MLAs Harry Bains, Jagrup Brar, Sue Hammell and Bruce Ralston, and NDP MP Jasbir Sandhu, included presentation of medals to 45 local residents, as part of 60,000 being distributed across the country to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s 60-year reign.
In a Feb. 1. letter sent to Gov. Gen. David Lloyd Johnston returning the medal, Kaur said she attended the ceremony that same day “only to show my respect and gratitude to those in my community who saw value to my existence and in my contributions to making Canada and the world a better place.”
Kaur said she would be “delighted” to have the medal returned to her “when the British monarchy apologizes and makes restitutions to all the nations it violently and insidiously invaded, occupied and decimated for its own benefit.”
She told Peace Arch News, “I have to be able to look my children in the eye,” noting she is not anti-monarchy or disrespectful of the present Queen, but wants past “wrongs to be acknowledged and rectified.”
Kaur noted that many members of her family "stood with Gandhi" in his resistance to the British Raj, before India won its independence in 1947.
"My ancestors spent time in prison for trying to free India," said Kaur.