'What our parents came here for': Brampton Sikhs celebrate Jagmeet Singh NDP leadership win

People in Brampton are celebrating Jagmeet Singh's NDP leadership victory, which has made him the first visible minority to lead a federal party in Canadian history.

Singh is the first member of a visible minority to lead a major federal party

Jagmeet Singh celebrates with supporters after winning the first ballot in the NDP leadership race to be elected the leader of the federal New Democrats in Toronto on Sunday, October 1, 2017. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Members of Brampton's Sikh community say Jagmeet Singh's victory in the federal NDP leadership races heralds a new chapter in Canadian politics.

On Sunday, Singh surprised some observers by winning the New Democrat's leadership race on the first ballot, becoming the first member of a visible minority to lead a major federal party.

The criminal lawyer originally from Scarborough has been an MPP since 2011 and the Ontario NDP's deputy leader since 2015.

"I think it's great news especially in our community and in our area," said R.V. Singh, a constituent in Singh's provincial Bramlea-Gore-Malton riding.

Harjot Ghuman-Matharu, a Punjabi community radio host in Brampton, who's closely followed Singh's political career, agreed.

"Being able to open a history book one day and see the name Jagmeet Singh, that type of a name in a history book is going to be quite phenomenal," Ghuman-Matharu said.

Ghuman-Matharu said before the 2015 federal election, Canadian Sikhs were merely paid lip service by vote-seeking politicians.

She said that began to shift when newly-elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled his 30 person cabinet, which included four Sikhs, including Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.

"I think we're done being pandered to, now it's about these individuals like Jagmeet and like these other MPs right now who represent what our parents came here for," she said on Metro Morning.

Better still, Ghuman-Matharu points to the way Singh has risen to one the most prominent positions in Canadian politics.

"He hasn't ever compromised who he is as a person, his identity, his name," she said, taking special pride in his insistence of using the correct pronunciation of his name. "Every time someone says 'jug-meet' and not 'jag-meet,' I smile."

Ramanjeet Billing said Singh's victory is inspirational to immigrants to Canada. (CBC)

While others welcomed Singh's history-making victory, they said his religion and the colour of his skin were not the sole reasons for celebration.

"I'm very sure if he was not a Sikh person, if he was someone else giving the right message, he would have been elected," said Ramanjeet Billing. "[Singh] being a Sikh, it's a perk for us."

But Billing says the goodwill won't last long if he can't deliver on his promises, which include action on inequality, climate change, reconciliation and electoral reform.

"It's still a job half done, [Singh] has to work hard to prove it was the right choice, so let's hope he does that," he said.