of Great Pride for Punjabis
It is great news for well- wishers of Punjabi that this language
has gained a place of prominence at the international level.
According to available information, Punjabi ranks 9th or 10th from
top out of a total of 6,000 languages recognized internationally
by the United Nations. It has been reported that close to 150 million
Punjabi speakers are spread out in about 125 countries around the
Nationally, Punjabi stands as the sixth or seventh most spoken
language in Canada. Here, in the Metro Vancouver area, Punjabi is
the third most spoken language after English and Chinese. Most likely,
it will also be the case in Metro Toronto where places like Brampton,
Springdale and Mississauga have substantially large Punjabi speaking
residents. In British Columbia’s cities like Surrey and Abbotsford,
Punjabi is second only to English as the most spoken language.
It is a matter of great pride for the Punjabi community that there
are eight Punjabi speaking members of parliament in Ottawa and seven
in the British Columbia legislature. PLEA is very encouraged to
note that some elected non Indo-Canadians like Vancouver mayor Sam
Sullivan, Surrey MLAs Bruce Ralston and Sue Hammel are also learning
Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA) is very pleased that
Punjabi language classes have been progressing very well in a number
of public schools and post-secondary institutions in B.C.
Surrey continues to be a great model for others. Punjabi classes
have been under way for many years, in the Surrey School District
for grades 5, 6 and 7 in three elementary schools. These are: Newton,
Strawberry Hill and Beaver Creek. In addition to that, six high
schools have Punjabi classes going on at different levels. It is
likely that another high school, Frank Hurt, will also be added
to this list shortly.
In addition to Surrey, Punjabi is being taught at Queensborough
Middle and New West Secondary in New Westminster and Walter Moberly
Elementary in Vancouver. Up until June of this year ,Punjabi was
also taught at Cambie Secondary in Richmond. Due to staff changes,
it may be hard for the school to offer it unless a suitable Punjabi
teacher is available. PLEA has been working with the school district
officials to ensure that students who want to take Punjabi can continue
to do so.
Punjabi supporters, teachers and administration in Abbotsford must
be commended for their efforts there. At this time, three elementary
and one secondary school in Abbotsford are offering Punjabi classes.
Abbotsford has also made provision for a part-time Punjabi language-helping
teacher for the district. This is a great development.
At the post-secondary level, a number of Punjabi classes were being
offered at the Surrey and Richmond campuses of Kwantlen University
College. Hopefully, there will be enough students for the continuation
of these programs. Also, Punjabi classes are available at University
College of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford. University of British
Columbia has been successfully offering first, second and third
year Punjabi courses for the past several years.
Efforts are underway to have Punjabi available in several more
schools in Surrey, Vancouver, Burnaby and elsewhere. PLEA hopes
to have Punjabi in at least three more schools in Surrey. They include
Cougar Creek, Cindrich and Creekside.Similarly; we have approached
Vancouver School District officials to consider offering Punjabi
at Trudeau, Sexsmith and Henderson Elementary and John Oliver Secondary.
Burnaby School District has also been requested to offer Punjabi
at a couple of its elementary schools and Burnaby South Secondary.
I would like to request parents at all of these schools to get together
and approach the principal of the school that their children attend
and urge them to offer Punjabi language classes in their schools.
PLEA would be pleased to assist them in any way it can. However,
the initiative has to come from the parents and the community.
PLEA finds that there are a number of problems with the province’s
current language policy. These have been brought to the attention
of the minister of education, Shirley Bond. Hopefully, the minister
will look favorably at our recommendations.
On behalf of PLEA, I would like to thank all of our supporters,
Indo-Canadian media and the community for their continued support.
Punjabi Language Education Association