Village Dameli, Jalandhar, Punjab
Rajinder Bhopal was born in the village Dameli, Jalandhar in Punjab, India. She was 15 years old when she moved to Canada with her mother, her brother and her three sisters on June 6th 1967. They landed in Victoria, BC as landed immigrants. When she arrived, her family had a picnic on top of the Malahat, where they ate samosa’s and paranthe (stuffed bread). Her family was so welcoming that they didn’t feel strange moving from a village – everyone was so loving and supporting in Mesachie Lake. Rajinder and her siblings didn’t know much English, so the Mesachie Lake School hired a teacher to teach them English for the first year so they could be put in an assigned grade from the second year. The only difficulty they faced when they moved was while in school, some kids were racist towards them because they were jealous that although they came from India, they were doing better in certain courses so they were ahead than other kids.
Rajinder moved to Duncan, BC in 1969, but still went to school in Lake Cowichan because she wanted to finish her school year. Her teachers were so kind that they would give her a ride to school everyday as they lived in Duncan as well and taught in Lake Cowichan. Everyone were so helpful, especially ladies who used to help her mom a lot particularly when she got married in 1970 at the Paldi Gurdwara. Rajinder’s mother was devoted and would come to the Paldi Gurdwara at 8am and would be there all day doing seva, paath and langar until 8pm. The only festival Rajinder remembers celebrating was Vaisakhi in Victoria. She remembers that the Paldi Gurdwara held the July 1st Jor Mela so no other gurdwara would have a function that weekend and people from Port Alberni, Abbotsford and Vancouver would come.
Rajinder first went back to India in 1970 with her husband and her son to bring her in laws to Canada. Her in laws lived in a village called Pojowad and she used to do paath at the gurdwara there and the locals would be so surprised that even though she’s from Canada she could do paath. In Paldi, she would do kirtans and paath which she learned from her mother. Paldi is very close to her heart because Rajinder loved the community she grew up in, everyone was so loving, caring and helped each other out in times of need.