A woman with brown skin and dark brown hair with light brown highlights dressed in a navy blue police uniform stands in front of a white and blue police car.
'Allegiance', starring Supinder Wraich, is available to stream on CBC Gem. (Photograph courtesy of CBC Gem)

Topics: Justice | Culture

New police drama ‘Allegiance’ explores how injustice can make you rethink your identity

Told through a South Asian family in Surrey, B.C., the CBC series grapples with what's legal, what's right and what's fair when people of colour are policed


Supinder Wraich brings her dog inside on an unusually warm winter day. She is a new mother who recently celebrated her newborn baby’s first Christmas. After filming for the past four months in Surrey, British Columbia, she winds down in her Toronto home, more relaxed now that she is out of uniform. Her uniform is that of Sabrina Sohal, the fictionalized rookie police officer she plays on CBC’s latest original series, Allegiance.  

On its surface, Allegiance, which premiered on Feb. 7, is a gripping, fast-paced crime drama. As the show progresses, Allegiance delves into the Sikh Punjabi community in the heart of Surrey, portraying the experiences of a South Asian woman and her family as they navigate issues of identity, belonging and the complexities of the justice system.

The series begins with the arrest of Sabrina’s father, the esteemed politician Ajeet Sohal (Stephen Lobo) who is accused of treason. Determined to clear her father’s name and uphold their family legacy, Sabrina embarks on a relentless quest for truth and redemption, unveiling a web of skepticism and prejudice from colleagues and suspects alike. Teamed up with veteran training officer Vince Brambilla (Enrico Colantoni), Sabrina struggles with balancing her family legacy, badge and her commitment to righteousness.

“I was drawn to this role by the opportunity to portray someone from my community, which is rare and appealing,” says Wraich, an Indian-born Sikh from the Punjab region of Chandigarh. “I also wanted to explore the theme of being “otherized” despite [having] generations in a country. You know, Sohal considers herself Canadian until her father’s crisis reveals otherwise.”  

A woman with brown skin and dark brown hair with light brown highlights dressed in a navy blue police uniform stands next to a man with white skin and a police cap dressed in a navy blue police uniform.
Sabrina Sohal (Supinder Wraich) and Vince Brambilla (Enrico Colantoni) in ‘Allegiance’. (Photograph courtesy of CBC Gem)

Graduating at the top of her police academy class, Sabrina navigates the intricacies of her job in law enforcement, negotiating the intersection of gender, ethnicity and profession. Sabrina finds herself ostracized by some of her colleagues in the police force due to her father’s arrest. The subsequent fallout forces her to confront beliefs she never identified with before. Yet, her family and friends are quick to support the man who has served the community as the Minister of Public Safety. 

“In Sikh tradition, family holds deep meaning, serving as a basis of identity and support. Allegiance accurately showed that the arrest of Sabrina’s father would devastate her as well as the Sikh community,” says Romi Brar, a member of the Sikh community in Calgary.

Wraich prepared for this role by understanding the show’s context and Sabrina’s individual journey.

“It’s crucial to grasp Sabrina’s recent loss of her father to the judicial system and her challenges entering a hostile work environment,” says Wraich. “Dealing with her brother’s skepticism towards the police adds another layer of emotional turmoil.”  

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Wraich praised the talented Stephanie Morgenstern and Mark Ellis, Allegiance co-writers and co-showrunners for paying close attention to real-world dynamics and ensuring creator Anar Ali’s vision was authentic on screen. Each episode of Allegiance presents Sabrina with new challenges and opportunities for growth.

“Sabrina struggles with the pressure to prove herself in a male-dominated environment, striving to balance cultural expectations with her professional goals while challenging stereotypes every step of the way,” says Wraich.

Despite this, Sabrina quickly catches the attention of her police force with her distinctive approach to fighting crime. Sabrina chooses words before weapons, demonstrating a commitment to serve and protect through empathy. From rescuing victims of violence to advocating for restorative justice, Sabrina’s journey is about reconciling what is right with what is fair. 

“Sabrina is holding on to the idea of fairness. And we know that what is legal may not always align with fairness,” says Wraich.

 Allegiance brings a different face to what a Canadian television lead has typically looked like by featuring a woman of South Asian descent. The turban worn by Sabrina’s father serves as an identity symbol and marks a significant step forward in on-screen representation by fostering a deeper understanding of Sikh traditions within Canadian society.

A woman in a navy blue police officer uniform salutes a man in a dark grey suit and light purple turban. There is a brown podium to their right and a man dressed in a police uniform sitting on a chair to their left.
Sabrina Sohal (Supinder Wraich) salutes Ajeet Sohal (Stephen Lobo) in ‘Allegiance’. (Photograph courtesy of CBC Gem)

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Gurleen Kaur, a student of South Asian descent at the University of Calgary, points out that while Canada is celebrated for its diversity and openness to people from various backgrounds, its media often focuses on Caucasians, neglecting other ethnic groups.

“It is quite moving to see someone of Sikh and South Asian descent in a lead role, portrayed in a non-stereotypical manner on Canadian TV,” says Kaur.

Wraich reminds us that the medium is sometimes the message.

“We are living in a polarizing time,” says Wraich. “I think to have [Sabrina’s] character that sort of looks at the world and sees that by having conversations, by asking questions, we can do better – I think that is a nice world to live in for an hour every Wednesday night on CBC.” 

Allegiance is available to stream on CBC Gem. 


M. L. Witkowicz is a writer based in Toronto, Ont.

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