Harjit Sajjan – Minister of National Defence
August 15, 2016
Being a professional photographer dedicated to capturing headshots becomes an opportunity to capture the essence of people, agencies and their unfolding dreams – allowing me the privilege to witness greatness. Over the next few months I am writing about agencies and people shaping our society by either offering unique services, products or a great life. Today I am writing about our esteemed Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan whom I had the privilege to photograph in 2011 while photographing the officers of BC Regiment.
“When did you returned from Afghanistan, Sir?” I asked as we were preparing to photograph the then titled Lieutenant Colonel Harjit Sajjan, I was briefed earlier that week that he was in Afghanistan. “Just returned this morning from my tour and came straight to see you for our headshot session”, explained the Lieutenant Colonel. I didn’t need to ask him why would he come straight to see me for his session, instead of visiting his family, friends or going for a walk after dealing with all that he experienced during his last tour. I was already educated about the Lieutenant Colonel as being one of Canada’s most talented Officers and assumed that he didn’t want to inconvenience anyone else’s schedule, because that is the kind of leader he is.
Our Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau chose Harjit Sajjan as our Defence Minister. His position will be legendary, not only for the pride of Canadians but through his leadership, passion and compassion as Canada transitions from being a follower to the leader of International Peace. We have a war hero, a police detective – the real thing in Harjit Sajjan.
Harjit Sajjan was born in a little village called Bombelli in the Hoshiarpur district of Punjab, India. Sajjan’s father was a police officer in India and a World Sikh Organization member, they immigrated to Canada in 1976 when Harjit was but 5 yrs old. Sajjan joined the BC Regiment in 1989 as a trooper and was commissioned in 1991 where he rose to Lieutenant Colonel. He was deployed overseas four time in the course of his career: once to Bosnia and Herzegovina where he was wounded, he would later be deployed in Afghanistan three times. “The best single Canadian intelligence asset in theatre”, his work saved “a multitude of coalition lives.” was the Brigadier General David Fraser remarks following his investigation of Operation Medusa where four soldiers were killed under Sajjan’s command.
“When we said we were going to be a responsible partner in the world, we meant it,” Mr. Sajjan said in a conference. “We don’t want to spend a lot of timing talking buzz words, we want to demonstrate with action.”. While Canada is preparing to help the World through our Minister of Defence strategic plans this is what he had to say about our new role in the World. “Even using the terminology of peacekeeping is not valid at this time,” he said. “Those peacekeeping day, those realities, do not exist now and need to understand the reality of today.”. His options included, but are not limited to, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali and Central African Republic – all African countries with UN peacekeeping missions.
Sajjan was also a detective for the Vancouver Police Department with the department’s gang crimes unit specialising in drug trafficking and organized crime investigation. His esteemed career in Vancouver lasted 11yrs.
I remember being 20 years old and reading an article about the RCMP allowing sikhs to wear a turban and later discussing it with my friends who like me at that age lacked wisdom so we joked about it in 1990. Little would I have known then when I didn’t know much that one of my greatest pride in my career would be photographing a war hero, a talented detective and the Minister who will be contributing in positive changes for Canadians and International Society. I just didn’t know any better ” I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the content of their character”. Martin Luther King.