Uganda, East Africa
Rajinder Gill was born in Uganda and then immigrated to India where she lived for ten years. Rajinder completed her high school and pre-medical schooling in Moga, Punjab, India and then moved to Ludhiana to pursue her MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) studies. She is a doctor by profession. Rajinder was engaged in India and married in Abbotsford, Canada in June 1972. She first landed in Vancouver and lived with her fiancé in Mission, BC as she had no other family in Canada. After living in Mission for six months, she then moved to Vancouver with her husband, Nash Gill, who at that time was studying towards his law degree at UBC. The couple also lived in Burnaby, BC for seven years where they raised their three children and then moved back to Mission for another twenty years. Rajinder and her family moved to Abbotsford in 1990 and have been living there ever since.
Rajinder believes her exposure to different cultures comes from having lived in Uganda and Kenya during a time when they were under British rule. Rajinder couldn’t practice medicine in Canada as her credentials weren’t recognised here and she didn’t want to leave her family and move to the United States. As such, she became a full-time mother, mostly staying at home and helping her father-in-law (Indar Singh Gill) with paperwork and accounting for their real estate and mill business.
By the time Rajinder moved to Canada, society had changed a lot such as there being more education and more awareness of the Indian culture and Indian language. According to Rajinder, those who spoke Punjabi spoke a mostly rustic Punjabi because they came from the villages. There were few formally educated Punjabi’s living in BC at that time. Those from Punjab, Bombay and Delhi, who had formal education, mostly went to Toronto and did not come to BC. People mostly moved to BC because there were more well-paid labor jobs. Rajinder particularly loved how everyone would meet at the gurdwara because people in India didn’t meet much at the gurdwaras. All families were very close, warm and socially accepting. Even though they all came from different parts of Punjab, everyone got along, sat together and socialized.
In the 1990’s Rajinder became involved with the Centre for Indo Canadian Studies and with community services, working on issues of violence against women and children. She was involved in the workshops they conducted and also volunteered with the food bank. When Rajinder lived in Mission she saw a large Indigenous community, which included at the local school where her children would play soccer. Her children became good friends with Indigenous children and played with them on the neighbourhood streets.
Rajinder’s brother came with her as a visitor and within six months he got his landing status as he was educated. He worked and eventually sponsored their mother, father, brother and sister in 1974. They all moved to Maple Ridge where they lived for three years before her brother decided to move to the Interior of BC to areas such as Sparwood and Elkford.
Rajinder visits India every year, as her in-laws have built a house for them to visit anytime.