People of KHSC: Satwinder Singh
People of KHSC celebrates individuals across KHSC who capture the spirit of caring deeply for patients, families and each other
At 21 years old, KHSC Security Guard Satwinder Singh already has a lifetime’s worth of stories to share. In part, because his journey from Punjab, India to Kingston has been a winding one.
At just 8 years old Singh became a volunteer soldier in the Sikh army, known as Taruna Dal. By the time he was 14 years old he had left his family home for more rigorous training, mastering the Sikh martial art of Gatka, as well archery and horseback riding. During this time, he also become more devout in his faith of Sikhism which teaches the values of equality and helping others.
“I just want to help people regardless of their race or faith, I have been taught that since I was young.”
However, as he grew older so did his concerns about the government and politics in his home country. So, in 2018 he decided to start the next chapter of his life in Canada, enrolling as an international student at St. Lawrence College and setting his eyes on a career in the field of law enforcement.
“I really didn’t want to leave my community and family behind, but I was used to being away from home. It wasn’t hard moving to Canada for that reason, it was hard for different things, like the language barrier, I had to make new friends and find roommates. But when I arrived in Canada I wanted to show how good a job I could do. I wanted to show to my community and my family how successful I could be in Canada.”
Arriving all alone in a new country could have been difficult, but to help ease his transition he was able to connect with the local Sikh community, becoming an active member at the cultural centre on Hickson Avenue.
“It’s been wonderful to have that community for support and faith, I have made many friends there. Overall, being in Kingston has been awesome and the people here have been so helpful.”
Singh first started working as an access screener with Kingston Health Science Centre (KHSC) during the pandemic, checking patients and visitors for COVID-19 symptoms before they entered the hospital sites.
“When I was working as a screener I saw the security guards at KHSC and how professional they were and that became a dream job for me. I applied to become a security guard and said ‘give me that job and I want to show you what I can do.’ I’ve been at KHSC almost a year now and it’s been lovely. It’s been great to support the patients. It really is my dream job.”
Meanwhile, his unique perspective has helped him in his role at KHSC. Recently he was able to support a patient in emotional distress at the Hotel Dieu Hospital site by offering a compassionate ear.
“She was quite upset and had run from the hospital. I was able to find her outside and I recognized she needed someone to talk to. So we bonded by talking about how much we both loved Indian food and I told her all about my butter chicken recipe.”
In another instance, he was able to recognize that a woman of Muslim faith felt uncomfortable when she was required to change her mask before entering the hospital for an appointment.
“Being from another country can help me navigate these situations because I had that experience from India. I could recognize that she wouldn’t be able to lift her Hijab and change her mask with me there because I’m a male. I was able to remove myself from that space, then I was able then to explain to the other staff in the area why that was important. Together we can now make patients more comfortable in the future by providing them with more privacy.”
“I think one of the most important things in life is to share your knowledge and to learn from others just by listening to them. Every day people ask me about my turban and my culture and I love to share this knowledge, because I can share about my faith and we can all learn from each other.”