Date of Birth:
Village Sariana, Punjab
Balbir Patara was born in Bhade Sariana, Punjab, India on July 10, 1950. She immigrated to Canada in March, 1972 after her engagement to Swarn Patara when she was in the eighth grade. It would be through this engagement with Swarn that Balbi would immigrate to Canada. Balbir’s brother dropped her off at the airport in New Delhi where the plane took her to Hong Kong for a layover. After the layover she headed over to Calgary and was received at the airport by her in-laws.
Balbir recalls the weather being very cold when she first arrived and because of these weather conditions the highway was closed due to heavy snowfall. As such, Patara and her in-laws had to divert to a different route to head to her new home in small town, Golden, B.C. She recalls Golden as having a large Punjabi presence at that time.
Balbir’s marriage was the first Sikh wedding to take place in Golden. She remembers life in Golden being very difficult for the first five years because the living style there was very different from India. After her children were born however she was able to settle in easier, especially because she became busier with taking care of them.
On the weekends Balbir’s family would go to Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park and have picnics there, bringing their own homemade food, such as pakoras and joining other families. Her children were younger at the time and enjoyed playing ball nearby. Her family would also go visit other Punjabi families in Donald, B.C. -they would go in the morning and come back home in the evenings. Her family also used to visit Calgary, Alberta, as well as Lake Cowichan and Victoria, B.C. She first travelled back to visit India after ten years of living in Golden and felt that India was very different by then.
Balbir remembers the Punjabi families in Golden living very peacefully amongst each other and she also recalls that all were friendly towards one another. Although many Punjabi families that once resided here have moved away, Balbir hopes to continue living in Golden.