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'He Put Us on the Map': How Brampton Mourned Sidhu Moose Wala

Hundreds of people paid a tribute to the slain singer at a vigil in Brampton. The Quint spoke to some of them.

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Edited By :Saundarya Talwar

Thousands packed into Brampton’s Chinguacousy Park on the evening of Saturday, 4 June, to pay a tribute to Punjabi musician Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu, famously known as Sidhu Moose Wala.

Friends of the slain singer put together the vigil along with the community organisers behind the Toronto-based group Kisaan Union.

The vigil started at 7 pm in one of the city’s largest recreational parks with the peaceful crowd continuing to build throughout the duration of the programme.

A flatbed truck served as the stage where many came to speak about the impact that Sidhu left on the community. In front of the stage, there was a space for the candlelight vigil with pictures of Sidhu along with candles and bouquets of flowers.

Brampton – Sidhu Moose Wala's Second Home

A vigil in Brampton proves to be a significant one, as not only does the city have a huge presence of the Sikh-Punjabi diaspora, it also happened to be the place where Moose Wala got his start in music.

Brampton was seen as his second home next to his village in Punjab – Moosa.

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    Thousands packed into Brampton’s Chinguacousy Park on Saturday evening to pay tribute to Sidhu Moose Wala.

    (Photo: Monika Sidhu/The Quint)

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    (Photo: Monika Sidhu/The Quint)

    (Photo: Monika Sidhu/The Quint)

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    (Photo: Monika Sidhu/The Quint)

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    (Photo: Monika Sidhu/The Quint)

The vigil came nearly a week after the 28-year-old was murdered in Punjab's Mansa district on 29 May.

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'I Can't Forget Him': An Aspiring Musician

Moose Wala's impact on the city and the community was visible through the number of people who turned up for the vigil. Many of them wore personalised T-shirts and signs with words like “dil da ni mada” – his well-known mantra that translates to “not bad from the heart.”

Simranjeet Singh, an aspiring musician living in Brampton, was one of the couple thousand people in attendance. The 22-year-old told The Quint that Moose Wala was his biggest influence for many reasons: “His legacy, his revolution, and his power. You know, he's a legend. I can't forget him.”

Hundreds of people paid a tribute to the slain singer at a vigil in Brampton. The Quint spoke to some of them.

Simranjeet Singh.

(Photo: Monika Sidhu/The Quint)

Dressed in a Tupac shirt and a poster of Sidhu that he held high above his head, Singh was standing tall and proud at the vigil as he displayed his admiration for the late artist.

If it was not for Sidhu, he would not have the confidence to be where he is today, Singh added, saying: “I never had this much confidence that I can stand here like this. I can hold his big picture, you know, but he built up the confidence with his songs.”

Singh, who came to Brampton as a student, is inspired by Sidhu’s career trajectory.

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Sidhu Moose Wala came to Brampton in 2016 as an international student and was quickly recognised for his musical talents. He released his hit song “So High” in 2017 alongside producer Big Byrd. He followed it up in 2018 with his debut album PBX One.

'Sidhu Had No Type of Ego, Continued to Live Life With His Faith': Remedie Brar

One of the vigil organisers from the Kisaan Union, Remedie Brar said she remembers when she first started listening to Moose Wala, and how it made her feel.

“I felt like that specific album, PBX One, was just out of this world,” Brar told The Quint.

Hundreds of people paid a tribute to the slain singer at a vigil in Brampton. The Quint spoke to some of them.

Remedie Brar.

(Photo: Remedie Brar/Instagram)

Talking about the vigil, Brar said the goal was to bring the community together to honour Sidhu.

She remembered feeling how much his music stood out to her; not only did Moose Wala combine hip-hop and Punjabi music, his touch made it all the more unique, she added.

“I felt like he kind of put us on the map,” Brar said, adding, “I think that's one of the reasons where a lot of the international community, especially students, they can relate to him” she said.

“It was literally just his own hard work, and it took him to where he is today from where he started back in 2016.”

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Hundreds of people paid a tribute to the slain singer at a vigil in Brampton. The Quint spoke to some of them.

Brar said she herself had encountered Moose Wala many times, in social circles and in professional spaces. She experienced the notorious humble personality that many have attributed to him and said that it never wavered.

“He would never have any type of ego. He would talk to you as a normal human being. You want to have conversations about life? He'll have that with you and you wouldn't ever feel like you're sitting in the presence of a superstar.”

She also acknowledged the factor of representation that Sidhu appealed to. He never cut his hair, kept his turban, and never changed his original appearance. He continued to lead his life with his faith, Sikhi, in mind and at the forefront even after six years.

“Wherever he was, he was true to himself. And I feel like that's why a lot of people can relate to him,” she added.

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'Not Just About India, Sidhu Moose Wala Connected People From All Over the World'

A 17-year-old student, Gurneer Dhillon, also helped organise the event alongside Brar.

The Brampton resident told The Quint the large turnout at the vigil had left her awestruck.

Hundreds of people paid a tribute to the slain singer at a vigil in Brampton. The Quint spoke to some of them.

Gurneer Dhillon.

(Photo: Monika Sidhu/The Quint)

“Everyone wanted to come and give their condolences to his family, to him, and support them in any way you can. We're just here to remember him and what he did for us what how he impacted us (sic),” said Dhillon.

“I feel like even though he's gone, I think his name will still be in our hearts and his music is still going to be in our heads,” she added.

After the speakers concluded an Ardas was done and all attendees were asked to cover their heads out of respect.

Following the Ardas, snacks were handed out by vigil volunteers and music was played while many continued to peacefully occupy the space in the name of Sidhu Moose Wala.

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Attendees at the vigil ranged from individuals who came on their own to families with young children. Akansha Watts was in attendance with a few of her friends, all of them wearing custom sweaters printed with animated illustrations of Sidhu.

“I don't listen to him a lot, but, whenever I did listen to him, it feels like [I'm at] the top of the world,” Watts told The Quint.

She recalled how large of a mark Moose Wala made and how his reach was global.

“It's not just about India, it was about Canada. Even the UK, even in Pakistan. He connected people from all over the world.”

She said bringing together so many people is one of the biggest impacts Sidhu left on the world.

Hundreds of people paid a tribute to the slain singer at a vigil in Brampton. The Quint spoke to some of them.

Akanksha, Amandeep, and friends.

(Photo: Monika Sidhu/The Quint)

Her friend Amandeep Monga agreed.

Monga came to Brampton as a student in 2015 and has since established himself here. He continues to admire the success that Sidhu Moose Wala was able to find in Brampton.

“Because of Brampton, he was famous in Brampton and the whole world,” said Monga.

As the music stopped playing and as the vigil was respectfully taken down, attendees took their mourning hearts and love back to their homes. Brampton may never have Sidhu Moose Wala walk our streets again but his legacy will be a part of the city's soul forever.

(Monika Sidhu is a freelance journalist from Brampton,Ontario. She reports on arts, culture and social justice matters.)

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Topics:  Punjab   Sidhu   sidhu moosewala 

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