Bhagwant Singh Jaganda

Date of Birth:
Village Shankar, District Ludhiana, Punjab
Current City:
Duncan, BC

Bhagwant Singh Jaganda was born in 1924 in the village Shankar, district Ludhiana Punjab, India. He did his Bachelor of Arts degree in Ludhiana Government College. He then went to Europe and completed his Master in Arts degree. From there he decided to fill out the application and started to gather information about joining the University of British Columbia. Bhagwant Singh came to Canada in 1950 where his plane landed in Vancouver and his friend came and picked him up. After that he went to his hostel for which he stayed for a couple of months. His friend, whom he named ‘Dhaliwal’, advised him to stay at Fort Camp and so he did. When Bhagwant’s plane first landed in Vancouver, he didn’t know anyone. When he reached the UBC campus, the camp’s warden gave him a blanket, some bedsheets and a pillow. This is when Bhagwant felt very lonely but soon after, he started playing hockey and made many new friends.

In 1908, the Sikh gurdwara was built, located in West 2nd Avenue in Vancouver. There were only about 2000 people living in Vancouver at the time. In 1952, a man named Malkeet Parhar raised the question of why Sikhs that don’t wear turbans couldn’t be a part of the executive team. After that Sikhs who didn’t wear turbans were also allowed to be a part of the executive committee. The first person that didn’t wear turban and became the president of the temple was a man named Narinjan Singh Grewal. Once that happened, five or six Sikhs with turbans left the committee. They didn’t think it was right so they opened their own temple called the Akali Sikh Temple. That’s when Bhagwant became the vice-president of the Khalsa Diwan Society, Vancouver gurdwara.

In 1956, Bhagwant earned a job with the Burnaby Planning Department. He went back to visit India after 11 years of living in Canada going to the deputy minister asking for a leave so that he could go and visit his family. He was able to go for one month and three weeks. But once he got there, his parents decided to get him married. Due to this, he asked for many extensions to his vacation. By his third extension, he was married. He came back to Canada with his family.

Not many people celebrated holidays such as Diwali at the time. Everyone would go to Victoria for the Vaisakhi Mela (fair) and Vancouver for Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s birthday. Bhagwant would collect donations for celebrating India Day. One day he went to Hillcrest. There a very nice man gave them a very generous donation. They were all sitting on the sofa when the man pulled out a cheque for $25. Bhagwant was a bit hesitant on taking it. The man noticed this and told Bhagwant that he would pay for anything that was left at the end. The establisher of Paldi also donated money for this.

Bhagwant will never forget the time a man named Bachan Gurm gave him $100 just because their families knew each other. Somehow Bhagwant managed to convince Bachan to take back $40 but he insisted on giving him $60. Since the rent for one month was $40, Bhagwant will never forget what Bachan did for him. In 1962, Bhagwant’s wife and kids came to Canada.

Bhagwant also wrote an autobiography. He wrote about how, when and why he came to Canada and explains his journey. Bhagwant holds great importance for his elders. According to him, if it weren’t for them, he would have never come so far in his life. Bhagwant also faced some situations where discrimination was involved. One of his friends was denied entry to a movie theater just because of his turban. However, Bhagwant and his friends went, fought for equality and were able to go in. Another day he and his friends were at a beer parlor and were not being served. Rather than leaving, he and friends stayed and waited for a long time. Eventually, they were given their drinks.