ONTARIO: A new Brampton elementary school will make history as the first in Canada to be named in honour of a prominent figure in Sikh-Canadian history.

The Peel District School Board has announced it will name a school in the region after Sikh-Canadian soldier Pte. Bukkan (Buckham) Singh.

A second new elementary school will also be opened in honour of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai.

Pte. Buckham Singh was the first Sikh man to enlist with the Canadian army during the First World War. He moved to Canada in 1907 at age 14, when the Canadian government resisted South Asian immigration. But because of a labour shortage, British Columbia accepted Sikh labourers.

Pte. Buckham Singh endured forced separation from his family because of the restrictive policies. He served with the 20th Canadian Infantry Battalion in the battlefields of Flanders in 1916, and was twice wounded in separate battles. He was sent back to Canada after undergoing surgery for tuberculosis and died in Kitchener, Ontario in 1919 with no family or community around him. He was buried by the Canadian military with full honours.

In a statement, Brampton trustee for wards nine and 10 Balbir Sohi said the board is proud to name one of the new schools after Buckham Singh.

“Through his service and dedication to our country, he left behind a proud legacy — not just for the Sikh community but for all of Canada,” Balbir Sohi said.

Buckham Singh Public school will be located in the Vales of Humber area.