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Meet your MLAs: Aman Singh (Richmond-Queensborough)

By Don Fennell

Published 11:46 PST, Tue November 24, 2020

Last Updated: 12:06 PST, Tue November 24, 2020

What was supposed to be a five minute meeting with John Horgan wound up being more than an hour. But that appointment in 2016 convinced Aman Singh to join the BC New Democrats, and to run for a seat in the provincial legislature.

The newly-elected MLA for Richmond-Queensborough, Singh was struck by Horgan’s genuine nature.

“What a really empathetic, great person to be around,” he says of BC’s premier and leader of the NDP.

After narrowly losing to Liberal Jas Johal in the 2017 election, Singh returned to his successful law practice to which he’s devoted much during the past two decades. He was in the throes of wrapping up any loose ends at the practice last week, after winning the riding seat in this year’s Oct. 24 election

“It’s still surreal, perhaps partly because with the pandemic there’s no meetings in-person or ceremonies yet,” he says.

As a kid growing up Hong Kong, Singh was fascinated with local politics and world events—something his parents eagerly advanced.

“They not only supported this, but helped spark my interest in politics and law by always taking the time to explain the news to me, and encouraging me to join in on lively dinner table debates,” he says.

Singh is“grateful and privileged” to have grown up in several different countries, and thus able to engage in several difficult cultures and converse in many languages including Punjabi, Cantonese and English. The family’s journey began in Thailand where an uncle was the head priest of the Sikh temple and encouraged his dad to move the family there. Soon, it was on to Hong Kong where young Aman spent the great majority of his formative years before again moving with his family to Richmond in 1989.

“We had cousins living here, and all of my dad’s business friends had moved here as well,” explains Singh, forever grateful for his parents.

“They were so incredibly ahead of their time,” he says. “My mom was a beacon for the community that women in Hong Kong would come to for support. She led her life based on sympathy and that’s what she taught me and my brother. We took that to heart.”

He lost his mom just over two years ago, and as a result can’t help but feel a bit bittersweet about his election victory. He knows she would have been so proud.

Now his dad is battling Alzheimer’s. Ever indebted, Singh strives to follow in his dad’s footsteps as someone dedicated to giving back.

“My father did that all his life. Most of the Punjabi population in Hong Kong was very working class. Starting out as a security guard and working on ships, he was a real entrepreneur who ended up working for himself and opening his own travel agency. People in the old days would travel back to India once every three or four years, and he would give them credit so they could pay for their tickets over the course of a year or two. That’s the kind of kindness and empathy my parents instilled in us.”

A progressive lawyer who appreciates the importance of advocacy, Singh was afforded the opportunity to meet many “great” politicians at all levels before finally entering the political forum himself. He says he has also been fortunate to engage in many great discussions, even with those whose political views differed from his own. He grew to admire the likes of former federal NDP leader Jack Layton and has become good friends with the party’s current leader Jagmeet Singh.

Upon being sworn in as an MLA, Singh becomes the first sitting member of the legislature to wear a turban. It’s an honour he carries with a great deal of pride.

“Gratitude is what I feel,” he says. “To have 10-year-old Aman seeing someone like me in the legislature, how encouraging that would have been. Now, I’m excited about the kind of world my daughter will grow up in. She represents so many cultures herself.”

Singh appreciates every day he and his wife Katrina—who is of Scottish descent—are able to spend with one-year-old Leni.

Along with his wife, a hair and make-up artist who works primarily in the fashion and film industry, he also shares a love of music—particularly folk—and enjoys family outings with their two dogs Charlie and Dave. That both are rescue dogs further speaks to the type of person Singh strives to be on a daily basis.

“My parents were refugees who had to leave their home with nothing and managed to build a better life in a new country. I strive to make them proud in everything I do.”

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