Canada’s new defence minister Harjit Sajjan has served Canada as both a member of the armed forces and a police officer.
Prior to his election to the House of Commons, Sajjan was an officer with the Vancouver Police Department for over a decade. His last assignment with the department was as a Detective-Constable in the Gang Crime Unit working to fight drug crimes and gang activity. On his retirement from the Canadian Forces, Sajjan was a Lieutenant-Colonel who deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kandahar, Afghanistan. During his served he received recognition for his service on several occasions. He received the Meritorious Service Medal, the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal, and the Order of Military Merit.
Sajjan recognized by Brigadier-General David Fraser as “the best single Canadian intelligence asset” in the Kandahar theatre. Because of his skill in this area, Sajjan was requested by the Commander of US Forces in Afghanistan’s southern province and served with them as Special Assistant to then Major-General James L. Terry. He also served as an Aide-de-Camp to the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. Sajjan was the first Sikh-Canadian to command an army reserve regiment, The British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own). Because of the Sikh requirement of a beard Sajjan had difficulty wearing a regulation gas mask, and so in 1996 he designed and patented a gas mask that would work with his beard.
Sajjan is married to Kuljit Kaur Sajjan, a family physician. Together they have two children. He was born to Sikh parents in Bombeli, Punjab, India. His family emigrated to Vancouver, BC when he was five years old. Sajjan’s father, Sardar Kundan Singh Sajjan, is a member a Sikh advocacy group, the World Sikh Organization.