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Canada being less than culturally sensitive

Not really the place I would expect this sort of thing to happen, but folk with the surnames of Singh or Kaur cannot emigrate to Our Lady of the Snows unless they change their surnames.

Rather than this being a Canadian exercise in Sikh bashing, the rationale is explained by a spokesbod thus: "I believe the thinking behind it in this case is because it is so common. [With] the sheer numbers of applicants that have those as their surnames, it's just a matter for numbers and for processing in that visa office".

One might note that the use of those surnames by Sikhs is not a mere passing fancy: "In 1699, the Sikhs adopted the name "Singh" due to the wishes of Guru Gobind Singh. Every Sikh male bears the name Singh, whilst the female equivalent is 'Kaur', meaning 'princess'".

I think our Sikh friends have every right to be less than chuffed about this, and if a google.ca search is anything to go by, there are an awful lot more Smiths, Joneses etc showing up there than Singhs.

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Blogger Mr Eugenides said... 10:11 am

Much as it pains me to do this: in the same vein, I point you towards this piece by Robert Fisk yesterday - particularly, in this context, the second half.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 10:16 am

Thank you for that Mr E.  

Blogger Ed said... 12:02 pm

But not all Sikhs are called Singh or Kaur are they?

My surname has a decidedly sleazy religious basis and I'm proud of it :-)  

Blogger Croydonian said... 12:12 pm

Ed - I think they are supposed to use the gender appropriate surname, although folk will add additional names. Monty Panesar's full name is Mudhsuden Singh Panesar, for instance.  

Blogger Newmania said... 12:28 pm

Actually C Iwas just reading in George Walden`s book " Time to Emigrate "( a cheery tome). That canada is chief amomgst those nations who love to preach at everyone else about immigration but in fact operate a strict policy of differential access.
When you come and think about the Canda is in general a bit preachy for America`s bitch.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 12:38 pm

I have spent the odd minute mulling on getting out of Dodge, but as far as I know, there are no desirable places where flaneurs are in short supply.  

Blogger Ed said... 1:10 pm


Supposedly the officials at Ellis Island we wont to making people's names More American. The story goes that the musician John Philip Sousa's forefathers we called "So"...  

Anonymous Verity said... 5:04 pm

This wasn't done intentionally,Ed. The officials spelled the name on the immigrant's official document the way it sounded. Most of them couldn't write, so didn't know if the spelling was correct or not, so most of them ended up with a simplified surname that actually made life easier for them in America.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 5:07 pm

Shades of the old joke about the Israeli PM calling in US PR bods to help the country spruce up its public image:

"We suggest you re-name the country Irving"......  

Blogger flashgordonnz said... 1:48 am

I was going to post:
"I don't know about Singh, but I do know that there is one too many Browns in the world"
BUt it reads like a racist comment! So in the interests of understanding, rest assured I am refering to GB: the PM of GB (and NI).  

Blogger Croydonian said... 8:31 am

FG - Yup, I can go along with that (clarified) sentiment.  

Blogger rajan r said... 10:46 am

I don't see why Sikhs can't have a family name in addition to Singh and Kaur; many do to begin with.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 10:49 am

Rajan - Quite possibly, but I'd be pretty unhappy if I was *compelled* to change my name purely to suit administrative convenience.  

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