Joginder Kaur Sohi
Date of Birth:
Joginder Kaur Sohi was born in Maalpur, Punjab, India on November 1, 1946. Her paternal grandfather first came to Canada in 1907 and through her grandfather, her uncle (mother’s brother), and Joginder’s brothers also immigrated to Canada approximately 50 years ago (1960’s). After Joginder’s father’s death, her brothers made the decision to bring Joginder to Canada.
On April 13, 1970, Joginder and her sisters landed in Vancouver and came to Victoria to join their brothers. Although Joginder was still in college in India, her brothers made the decision to get her to Canada as quickly as possible because there was no one to look after her since her father passed away.
During her initial days in Canada, she used to feel very lost as she missed her mother and friends a lot. However with time and with the support of her brothers and their wives, she was able to settle in and adapt to her new life in Canada. Within a year of coming to Canada, she was married to a person from India. The marriage took place in the Sikh gurdwara in Victoria.
Joginder’s husband was born, raised and educated in Delhi, India however when he immigrated to Canada his educational degrees from Delhi University were not recognized and he had no choice but to do labour work. For the first five years of their life together they struggled greatly but were lucky enough to get the help and support from Joginder’s brothers.
A few years into her marriage, Joginder began working in the hospital as a nurse’s aide. In her workplace, she was known as ‘Joy.’ The nurse she worked for was from England and gave Joginder a really hard time at work, often making her feel that it was racial discrimination. On the positive side however, the director and all the other nurses at the hospital saw Joginder as a really valuable employee and appreciated the hard work she put in. She shares that although her shift used to start at 7am, but she was always there at the workplace at precisely 6.30am.
Joginder shares that in those days the South-Asian community was not that involved as they are now. Indian festivals like Diwali were not celebrated. Still, Joginder and her family tried to be involved in the community and led a very social life. This is also because since her grandfather moved to Canada in 1907, their family had been here for long and knew a lot of people in the community.
Joginder shares that her grandfather played a very prominent role in the community. After coming to Canada he settled in Duncan and owned a mill where a lot of people from Paldi and Maalpur regions in India, used to work at his mill. Her grandpa was well known for his 6 feet and 4 inches tall stature and for the cane he always used to carry along with him.
Joginder recalls one story in particular about her grandpa. In the early 1900s, there was a trend to go to the pub to drink beer after work. One day, her grandfather went to the pub and was refused by the server as they said that they don’t serve to colored people. Angered by this, he got up from his seat, took the cane and broke every bottle in the pub. Since he was a big and tall person, no one dared to stop him and he continued to do this not caring about the possibility of getting arrested and going to jail. According to Joginder after this event, the local pubs started serving to brown people. Joginder’s cousin still owns 500 acres of her grandfather’s land in Duncan which continues the legacy of hard work her grandfather began.
Joginder is now settled in Victoria and does not visit India that often. She went back to India in 1996, after twenty years of being in Canada. The next time she went was 15 years ago for her daughter’s marriage, who now lives in Mumbai. Joginder and her husband made sure that their daughters received a good education, each of whom went on to study accounting and are now married and well settled with children.