Date of Birth:
Buncy Pagely is a third generation Canadian who was born in Victoria in 1941 in a Catholic hospital called St. Joseph Hospital. Her grandfather arrived to Canada in 1913. He left behind his wife and his son that was born in 1912. It took four months for her grandfather to get to Vancouver. From his village, Tutkallan, near Hoshiarpur, he went to Kolkata. From there they boarded the ship and began their four month journey to Vancouver. Her grandfather came before the Komagata Maru. Buncy is amazed at how her grandfather was able to settle with hardly any money.
At the time, it was a male community. When her grandfather reached Victoria, there was a group of men living in bunkhouses. While one person did the cooking, others did the rest of the chores. They all bonded well together.
Buncy`s mother and father got married when they were young. Her father was 17 years old. He came to Canada in 1921. Her mother and grandmother were still in India. Years later, in 1933, Buncy`s mom, dad, grandmother, and her father`s brother who had recently been born, got on a boat and came to Victoria from India. Buncy’s mother was expecting her sister so it was difficult to go through such a long journey.
Buncy`s grandfather was working and his business was flourishing. He was also very involved with the starting of the temples in Victoria and Vancouver. Her grandfather was very involved in the community. He worked with temples and helped them get started. Her father was very involved in sports. He used to put together all the volleyball games and races for August 15 because it was Indian Independence Day. Her father and grandfather worked together. After that their focus became the mainland. Each temple had its own celebration. Gurpurab (Guru’s birthdays) were celebrated in one temple and Vaisakhi at another. They used to go to downtown Vancouver from Victoria on a boat. According to Buncy, it was an amazing journey.
The population of Victoria was around 500 people when Buncy was growing up. The new temple in Victoria was made because of a dispute between people. Half of them wanted only turbaned men on the committee while the other half said that it should be okay to be on the committee even without a turban. Buncy’s whole family was married in the same temple. Now her grandchildren are also getting married there.
Growing up, Buncy didn’t face racism personally although there were racist incidents happening to others at her school. The only word that Buncy had been called was a Hindu but that didn’t bother her. Since she knew that there was racism going around, she started getting involved with multicultural programs.
According to Buncy, everything was different back in those days. All of the women were sisters to one another and aunties to the kids. In the late 1950s, Buncy and her friend started English classes for women that came from India in the temple.Buncy’s husband Raj, started to teach 8-14 year old kids Punjabi folk dance. Her and her husband volunteered for these types of programs for fifteen years. They were also much immersed in the Commonwealth Games. In the 1994 Olympics, they carried the flag.
Buncy knew that healthcare was something she really wanted to be involved in as an advocate. That’s when she started working on cancer awareness, including pap smears, breast cancer, and breast self-examination. Buncy was also interested in heart health and even went to India to learn from cardiologists there.
Buncy’s father, Mahinder Singh, inspired to her do everything she has done. Her husband Raj and she were both honoured with the Honorary Citizens Award in 1985. The (Dis) Enfranchisement event at the Sikh Heritage Museum was a highlight for Buncy and her family.
Buncy and her family have volunteered their time and done many wonderful things for the community.