Baltej Singh Dhillon fonds

Fonds/Collection, 2020_01

Baltej Singh Dhillon was born in Malaysia in 1966 and moved to Canada in 1983 at the age of 16 after the death of his father. Dhillon and his family settled in Surrey, British Columbia where he attended Frank Hurt Secondary School. After high school, Dhillon attended Kwantlen College (now Kwantlen Polytechnic University) where he majored in criminology. While at Kwantlen, Dhillon started volunteering with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Block Watch program in order to increase his chances of getting into law school. He later accepted a summer job with the RCMP. Shortly after Dhillon applied to work for the RCMP and other local police services. At the time that Dhillon passed his exams in 1988, it was RCMP policy for all officers to wear the iconic stetson hat, with no religious exemptions in place. Resultantly, Dhillon initially turned down an offer to join the RCMP as the dress code would not have allowed him to wear a turban or keep his beard, both of which are important articles of faith for Sikhs. His RCMP application was held in abeyance and Dhillon worked in private security and as a jail guard in Cloverdale in the intervening period. In 1989, RCMP Commissioner Norman Inkster made recommendations to Parliament for the uniform policy to be changed. A media controversy ensued where Dhillon had to endure a racist backlash from both the press and the public, up to and including death threats. On March 15, 1990, Solicitor General Pierre Cadieux ruled in favour of overturning the ban. While there was an attempt to overturn the ruling with the Canadian Court of Appeal, it was ultimately denied and in 1996 the decision was confirmed by both the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Supreme Court. Dhillon finally began his training with the RCMP, graduating in 1991, and subsequently becoming the first RCMP officer to wear a turban on duty. He was initially assigned a post in Quesnel where he continued to face racist pushback from the local population. Dhillon's career with the RCMP lasted twenty-eight years, where he held the rank of Staff Sargeant, Sargeant, and Inspector. As Inspector, Dhillon investigated several high profile cases, including the Air India bombing, the Robert Pickton investigation, and the Surrey Six trial. He also served as Non Commissioned Officer in Charge of the Intelligence Section for the Provincial Intelligence Centre of BC, Non Commissioned Officer in Charge of the Intelligence Section for Federal Serious Organized Crime, and Officer in Charge for the Operational Readiness and Response & Protective Technical Services Section, among other roles. After retiring from the RCMP in 2019, Dhillon joined the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia, an integrated police agency that tackles gang activity. Dhillon received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, Chancellory of Honours in 2002 and 2012, as well as an honourary Doctor of Laws from Kwantlen Polytechnic University in 2014. He was appointed to the Board of WorkSafeBC in 2017, serves as director of the 3HO Foundation Vancouver, as president of the Canada India Education Society and is a Sikh minister. Dhillon has also volunteered as Co-chair of the South Asian Advisory Committee and Consortiums in the Lower Mainland for United Way, Chair of the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Alumni Association, and as a yoga instructor for the Welcome Home Society. Dhillon and his wife Suroy have two daughters: Onkar and Rasna.