One Surreyite is using Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee Award as an opportunity to educate Canadians about the monarchy's nasty past with his home country.
Gurpreet Singh, a talk show host on Radio India, turned down the medal citing historical clashes between England and India that the Royal Family has been unapologetic about, among other reasons.
"I don't appreciate monarchy," he said. "We need a constitutional head in Canada, not monarchy at this time."
Singh brought up the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919, a mass shooting ordered by Brig.-Gen. Reginald E.H. Dyer of the British Army that left approximately 1,000 dead, according to the Indian National Congress. The Queen visited Amritsar, the city where the shooting took place, but reportedly never apologized, despite pleas from local activists.
Singh also pointed to more recent events, including the death of Jacintha Saldanha, an Indian nurse who committed suicide after she was accused of breaching the privacy of the Royal Family by inadvertently telling an Australian radio station of Kate Middleton's condition during pregnancy. He also mentioned the Governor General's absence in Idle No More discussions.
"I just wanted to express my solidarity with (the Idle No More movement)," said Singh. "They wanted the monarchy to address their issues and they were insisting the Governor General should be a part of this."
Singh was nominated for the award by Newton-North Delta MP Jinny Sims. Sims could not be reached for comment by press time, but Singh stressed that refusing the award was not out of any disrespect for Sims, nor for any other recipients of the award.
"I have been critical of monarchy on the radio, so it's not appropriate that I should be accepting this type of medal," he said, adding, "There are people who are spending time with patients in hospital, spending time at food banks. Those kind of people should actually be honoured instead of professional journalists who are just taking their salary, going back home, without committing any extra time for volunteer work."
According to the rules for distribution of the Diamond Jubilee medals, the award cannot be offered to someone else if it is turned down.