Cpl. Tajinder Aujla is the first devout Sikh to serve as a Ceremonial Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Canadian National War Memorial in Ottawa.

‘It’s my way of life, to serve… It’s the life I have chosen’

Surrey man is the first Sikh to stand guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier in Ottawa.

Cpl. Tajinder Singh Aujla’s life is dedicated to service and the Surrey resident wears two uniforms to prove it.

For the last month, Aujla, 36, has been serving as a Ceremonial Guard in Ottawa standing watch at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Canadian National War Memorial – the first baptized Sikh to do so.

Not only is Aujla a devout Sikh – sporting the five Ks or Sikh articles of faith (kachera, kara, kangha, kirpan and kesh) – he has also been a reservist with the 39th Brigade, Royal Westminster Regiment for the last four years, honing his skills in the infantry.

According to Aujla, both Sikhism and the military require a high level of discipline, something he feels has helped keep his life in balance.

The tomb is to remember all soldiers lost in war, he said, “but what happened last year to Nathan Cirillo… he was one of our brothers, so this place is even more dear to us.”

On Oct. 22, 2014, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a 24-year-old Canadian soldier, was on ceremonial sentry duty at the memorial when a gunman fatally shot him.

A few months ago, Aujla applied to a posting for honour guards at the site on the bulletin board at his regiment in New Westminster, and he was one of four applicants from his regiment selected for the three-week duty.

“The response has been overwhelming,” he said. “Canada is so multicultural and when people find out that I am Sikh and would risk my life to protect them, they are so appreciative.”

Service runs deep in his family as both his great-grandfather and great-uncle served in the Indian army.

And although Aujla has family at home in Surrey, he feels a sense of extended family being part of the military.

“The military is all about brotherhood. We look out for each other, we have to,” he said. “It’s my way of life, to serve. I don’t drink, I’m always on duty. It’s the life I have chosen.”

 

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