Episode nine: Jagmeet's Disarming Style

Punjabi-Canadian Jagmeet Singh is a politician and martial artist, who loves serving his constituents. He wears brightly colored turbans to disarm racism, but worries that his stylish reputation is taking center stage.

Jagmeet's Disarming Style

7 years ago
Duration 2:17
Jagmeet's Disarming Style

MPP Jagmeet Singh's involvement in Sleepover happened by chance. I was in a food court, ordering a spicy roti from a Punjabi stall when I struck up an interesting conversation with the young man making the food. He recognized me from when I worked at MuchMusic and asked what I was up to now. I told him about Sleepover, and he said that I should meet his brother, Jagmeet Singh.

I recognized the name immediately, he was the handsome MPP from all the style blogs. I was excited but hesitant. In my experience the hardest people to interview are police and politicians. Most everything they say publicly sticks closely to a scripted message, carefully worded and impersonal. The young man stirring a mango lassi assured me that his brother was different.

MPP Jagmeet Singh, is not your average politician. Growing up as a Punjabi-Canadian of the Sikh faith in Windsor Ontario, he felt the sting of racism. He was called a terrorist and physically attacked by other teenagers. Jagmeet learned to fight back, taking up martial arts and boxing.

As a criminal defense lawyer he offered free legal counsel to marginalized communities, spurred by his own experiences being confronted by the police. Now, Jagmeet channels that fighting spirit into serving his constituents and quelling social injustices from within the walls of his Brampton office.

Jagmeet has not yet become jaded or overly-cautious. He puts high importance on authenticity, which is what convinced him to take part in Sleepover despite concerns raised by his team. Which brings us to Jagmeet's problem: he wants to be known for his substance rather than his style.

Jagmeet works hard to disarm ignorance and racism. He wears brightly coloured turbans and presents a friendly manner to dispel cultural assumptions. Inadvertently, he's gained the reputation for being fashionable. This once winning formula may be becoming a liability, as he appears on more well-dressed lists. He wants the focus on issues faced by his constituents, not what he's wearing.

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Lounging in our pajamas in hotel room 2-127, strangers Judy Kennedy, boy wonder Tai Poole, and I try to help him figure out how to best do his job despite these objectifications.

Sook-Yin Lee 


MPP Jagmeet Singh wears bright turbans to dispel stereotypes, but he’s worried that his stylish reputation is taking center stage. (Adam Litovitz)
It's morning, Sook-Yin wakes up to little elf face staring down at her. Tai wants to go swimming! (Adam Litovitz)
Tai’s so eager to swim, he wears his bathing cap from the room, all the way down to the pool. (Adam Litovitz)
Now that’s a wake-me-up! A cool dip early in the morning. (Adam Litovitz)
Tai and Sook-Yin discover a fountain, with jets of water pouring lion’s mouths. As the water spurts, Tai guesses Jagmeet's problem. (Adam Litovitz)
Meanwhile, Judy is fresh-faced and looking like a prize boxer with a towel around her neck. (Adam Litovitz)
It's Jagmeet's turn to share, what's on your mind? (Adam Litovitz)
Jagmeet used to be a scrapper. As a teenager, he'd fight the kids who physically attacked him. (Adam Litovitz)
Now, instead of using his fist, he disarms with his colorful style. But Jagmeet is worried his dress sense is taking center stage. (Adam Litovitz)
Tai's fight style is avoidance. What do you think Jagmeet should do? (Adam Litovitz)
Judy is a peacemaker, she prefers to use words. Any advice for Jagmeet? (Adam Litovitz)
Do you think any of that advice was helpful Jagmeet? (Adam Litovitz)
And another sleepover is over. Our series wraps up with a messy room and three new friends. (Adam Litovitz)