Deljit Kaur Gill


Date of Birth:
Victoria, BC
Current City:
Duncan, BC

Deljit Kaur Gill was born in Victoria, BC in 1928. Her parents had originally moved from Jhandeyala, Jalandar in Punjab, India to Canada in 1927. Deljit recalls one highlight during her youth living on Vancouver Island when she used to visit Paldi for their annual jor melas (religious get togethers) as there were lots of Punjabi families living there at that time. She remembers Mr. and Mrs. Mayo, another family who settled early in the area, as very friendly couple whom she describes as never flaunting their wealth. They helped a lot of people that were in poverty and used to visit Victoria a lot too. If Deljit’s mother ever needed anything, Mrs. Mayo would take her to town.

Deljit says there used to be an Akand paath (a prayer ceremony where the holy text, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji, is read in its entirety) for three days at the jor melas and everyone used to play games together. Many people would come from Vancouver and Victoria. Vaisakhi was celebrated in Victoria and when this happened the community used to go travel to Victoria on a bus because not everyone had a car.

Deljit faced racism in school from white people. Some of them didn’t like Punjabi people and would call them names like “Hindus.” Deljit described how she felt there was little communication between Punjabi’s and the Indigenous peoples in the area.

Deljit moved to Lake Cowichan in 1950 where her and her family took care of cattle for 25 years. When she moved to Duncan in 1969, she still had those cows. Deljit described that those cows were able to provide the family their milk and butter. Deljit was married in Lake Cowichan and moved to Victoria where she lived for 5 years.

The women in the community back then didn’t have much of a social life; they all would get together at the temple or at someone’s house for tea.  Deljit visited India a few times to visit her family and her husband’s family. She also took her son for a tour around India.