Gurdial Narwan

Date of Birth:
1958
Birthplace:
Village Patara, Jalandhar, Punjab
Current City:
Golden, BC

Gurdial Kaur Narwan (née Khunkhun) was born on March 20, 1958, in Patara, District Jalandhar, Punjab, India. She came to Canada around 1974, after her dad’s sister sponsored her family. Gurdial Kaur has seven siblings, who have all settled in Canada. Gurdial Kaur’s brother and father came first, and then her mother travelled to Canada with her, alongside the younger children. Their plane from India landed in Vancouver, where the family then headed off to Kamloops. When Gurdial Kaur first entered Canada, she was surprised by the mountains, snow, and cold. She also began to question why everyone looked different from her and her family. Before she came to Canada, she thought that everyone had a similar appearance to her.

Gurdial Kaur’s uncle in Kamloops moved into a larger house in order to be able to host the new family. However, her uncle did not have enough money to sustain her family for a large period of time. So, Gurdial Kaur began working within a week or two of coming to Canada. She first worked at a farm, where she earned three dollars an hour. Then, her dad decided to move to Golden after a job opportunity came with the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). Due to this, her family chose to settle in Golden. When she lived with her uncle, her family also felt as though they were a large burden on him, so they actively searched for homes. First, they rented a home, and later on, after saving money, they were able to buy a home.

Gurdial Kaur recalls facing many difficulties when she first moved to Canada. She remembers not knowing English to be very difficult. For example, her family had to get other people to fill out forms for them. Furthermore, money was also a concern, so her family had to work hard to make ends meet.

In 1977, Gurdial Kaur’s parents arranged her marriage with her dad’s sister’s younger brother-in-law, to help sponsor her dad’s sisters family to Canada. During this time period, there was no temple to get married in Golden. She had to travel to Kamloops to get married, borrowing somebody else’s wedding dress. Even though they did not have any money, her father made sure to get jewellery for her to wear.

At this time period, Gurdial Kaur still wanted to obtain an education. So, even after she got married, she started going to school. She believed that if she wanted to stay in Canada, she should know English. When she was pregnant with her oldest daughter, she continued to attend school, even though others would laugh at her due to her age. Her daughter was born one day after her Grade 11 final exams were finished. Luckily, her mother-in-law arrived from India to help her take care of her newborn, so she was able to attend Grade 12.

Her father also faced difficulties obtaining a job, due to his white hair and beard. Her father was a turbaned Sikh (Sardaar), and he had to shave off all his hair in order to be hired in 1976. After shaving his hair, his appearance was younger, and he was able to obtain a job at a mill. Currently, Gurdial Kaur remains in Golden, where she has been married for over forty years.