He didn’t think his turban would be a hurdle in his election to the Board of Directors of IGNITE and it wasn’t.
Actually, it got him the highest number of votes.
Navdeep Singh was elected as one of four directors after Humber student organization IGNITE’s election results were declared on last Friday.
He came to Canada as an international student in 2015. Singh says he was attracted to politics because of his grand-father, dad and uncles who were all politically very active in the regional politics of Punjab.
Singh, who will turn 28 this month, is a second-year business management student. Initially, he had no interest in politics, he said, and education was always his top priority.
“That’s why I came here, to study. I haven’t even seen CN Tower yet because I try to save money and time for my education.”
He feels quite at home in Canada and said that he gets inspiration from the 20 Punjabi-speaking MPs elected to the Canadian parliament.
Singh has never faced any discrimination in Canada because of his turban, but had some trouble in landing a job with places serving food.
“Canada is a very open society. Sometimes there’s a problem in finding a job at places like (a certain fast food chain), but then I also worked at Tim Horton’s,” he said.
He said his turban gives him a chance to stand out in the crowd and thinks Canadians are very respectful toward it.
Singh added his turban brings a huge responsibility with it.
“If a turbaned person does something wrong, he gives a bad name to his entire Sikh community, so I think he carries extra self-inflicted burden of representing his community,” he said.
Singh was always confident about his win but refrained from saying anything and never skipped classes for campaigning.
He said the response was positive right from the very beginning. Many students he met gave him confidence.
Talking about the student apathy toward IGNITE elections (less than a quarter of eligible students vote) or other activities, Singh said he will discuss the matter with the newly elected President, Maja Jocson.
“This data should be available on the IGNITE website,” he said. “Let’s analyze the data. We need to know why students are not getting involved in these elections,” he said.
Singh said he will bring up the concerns of the international students to the forefront and encourage more student involvement in the coming years.
“Nobody is talking about the international students,” he said. “Nobody publicizes any of the IGNITE activities to encourage student involvement.”
Singh has also been selected for the national competition of an international organization called Enactus, which deals with social entrepreneurship, working in 36 countries and representing university and college students worldwide.
Humber College will be participating for the first time in this national competition to judge community outreach and business ventures that generate social progress. It will be held in Vancouver from May 8 to 11.