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Punjabis Shining Brightly in Canada and U.S.

Surrey, Vancouver, Jan 03, 2009
Balwant Sanghera
President, Punjabi Language Education Association

The Indo-Canadian community in general and Punjabis in particular have made huge strides in Canada since their arrival here more than 110 years ago. Same is the case of Punjabis around the globe. In this context, two countries stand out .In both Canada and the U.S. Punjabis have achieved positions of prominence in every area. This is more so in the political arena.

In the United States, Dalip Singh Saund made history a long time ago when he was elected to the U.S. Congress. He has been followed by numerous other Punjabis including Bobby Jindal, the first Indo-American /Punjabi to occupy the governors mansion in one of the American states. Similarly, Punjabis have made commendable accomplishments in every other area including business, technology, sports, communications and farming. Take for example, our communitys struggle in Canada spanning more than a century.

Our pioneers from various parts of the Punjab had tough time in making a place for themselves from the moment they entered Canada. They had to face systemic and state sanctioned discrimination, abuse, violence and racism almost on a daily basis. Despite all of the odds stacked against them these valiant souls kept their spirits high and succeeded in establishing themselves in a very hostile environment. It is due their courage and determination that to-day we are reaping the fruits of their sacrifices.

As our community has grown over the years, so has its political clout. Moe Sihotas election to the BC legislature in 1986 was a historic landmark for our community here in Canada. Since then, members of our community have occupied very high positions at the municipal, provincial and federal levels. To-day, this political clout is visible throughout Canada. Not only that, our brothers and sisters are considered to be the tops in business, communications, technology, education, sports and many other areas. Our young people are great role models not only for our community but also for the community at large.

The advent of a brand new year offers us an excellent opportunity to examine our past, pay tribute to our pioneers and look to the future. Of course, our communitys dynamics have changed drastically over the years. From the first arrivals to almost 1970, our communitys issues were mostly external and beyond its control. However, the challenges facing us to-day are mostly internal. Issues like domestic violence, drugs, gangs and youth violence have been staring us in the face. No doubt, a lot is being done already to address these issues. However, still a lot more needs to be done .We have the resources and the expertise to deal with these issues effectively. Lets hope that the new year will give all of us the renewed energy, courage and determination to meet these challenges head on.






Balwant Sanghera
President, Punjabi Language Education Association . He is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist in British Columbia ,Canada.