Last week, five Sikh men received special commendations—or awards—for their bravery and quick thinking, which saved the lives of two hikers in British Columbia. The awards were given out by the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) and the cities of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
The heroism of the five men—Ajay Kumar, Arvindjeet Singh, Gagandeep Singh, Kuljinder Singh, and Gurpreet Singh—was especially noteworthy for how it was done. The men removed their turbans and tied them together into a 10-metre (30-foot) long rope, which was used to save the hikers from drowning. For men in the Sikh religion, turbans are sacred articles of clothing that are only ever removed in private. But in this case, the men chose to make an exception.
In the words of Gurpreet Singh, who said a few words at the ceremony, "I'm feeling really proud I have a turban."
A chance meeting
Earlier last month, all five had been out enjoying a hike in the Golden Ears Provincial Park, BC when they came across two men in trouble. The men were trapped in quick-moving waters in a pool just above a powerful waterfall called Lower Falls. Around them was slick rock that was extremely difficult to climb. They were in great danger of being washed over the falls.
The Sikh men could not call 911 because there was no cell reception in the park. And if they tried to climb down the rock to help, they could've easily slid and fell into the waters themselves! After trying to find help, one of the group came up with an idea? What if they tied their turbans into a rope?
Adding their jackets to the makeshift rope for extra length, they were able to reach the trapped men without putting themselves in danger. (This is an important part of any rescue like this—you don't want to accidentally put even more lives at risk!)
Today, the two hikers are safe. Meanwhile, the five Sikh men have rightly been receiving praise and recognition from not only authorities in B.C., but news outlets around the world.
Watch a report from Global News below about these five heroes!