Date of Birth:
Village Barn, District Phagwara, Punjab
Karm Barn was born in the village Barn, district Phagwara, Punjab, India on April 14, 1932. His brother sponsored him to Canada in 1966 because work was available and his understanding was that people were fairly compensated for their hard work. Karm came to Canada as a permanent resident on May 23, 1966. When Karm landed in Vancouver he felt that Canada was a very beautiful and peaceful place that was free of any dangers. His brother and a travel agent came to pick him up in a car.
Karm was able to come to Canada because his father’s uncle applied for 3,500 people from Punjab, each of whom had relatives in Canada, through a very intelligent lawyer from Madras (now Chennai, India). The applications were approved and his brother was among the 3,500 people who immigrated to Canada in 1959. In Canada, Karm met his brother after twelve years. During the first five years he lived with his brother in Donald, BC. In the beginning, his brother helped him find a job at a small mill.
On June 1, 1966, Karm’s brother took Karm with him to work at a mill called Silver Tree Mill. During the ninth or tenth week, Karm went to Abbotsford to work in a farm; however, soon after there was no more work left at the farm. His brother’s neighbour knew about his situation and told him that there was work available 500 miles away. Later that year, on December 5, Karm went to Donald to look for a job. The taxi driver that helped him go to Donald was very generous. He dropped him off at Vancouver instead of Donald because it was cheaper to travel on a bus. If he wanted, he could have dropped him off all the way to Donald for more money, but instead he was thoughtful and did what was best for Karm. When Karm reached Donald, he asked people where he could find Gurdial Singh Dhami, although he later discovered that most people called him by the name ‘Bill’ instead of Gurdial. Eventually Karm found Gurdial and he showed Karm where his room was and told him that his first night shift started at 4:30 pm. The mill provided them with food two times a day and tea once a day.
In 1972, the owners of the mill sold the mill to another company that brought in new wood to work with which meant working with a lot of cedar trees. Soon after Karm realized that he was allergic to the cedar because he’d gone to Vancouver to get his tests done and his doctor told him that he could not work at the mill anymore. The mill had a section where they worked with the smaller and thinner trees and that’s where Karm was then sent to work. He used to pull 24 to 25 pieces of wood but soon the new company increased it to 30 pieces. In doing this, Karm injured both of his shoulders and the doctor told him that he needed surgery. As such, Karm went to Calgary to get his surgery done and was subsequently on sick leave for four years.
In 1968, Karm sponsored his family to Canada and by 1973 Karm had bought his first house- the same house he lives in today. In 1976, Karm had to go to India because his father was ill. When his father passed away, Karm’s brother sponsored their mother to Canada because there was no family left back home. In 1986, Karm retired and at the age of 65 he started to receive his pension.
According to Karm, there wasn’t much diversity during that time as there were only three families from Pakistan that were in Golden and there were not many interactions with Indigenous peoples. The family from Pakistan would go to Donald to visit the bunkhouses so eventually Karm became friends with them. Since Karm worked five days a week, on the weekends he went to that family’s home in Golden and enjoyed his day off with them. He would also buy any other groceries that he needed.
The gurdwara was built in 1980. In 1982, Karm became very involved with the gurdwara and in 1984, he became its first President. He was the President for two years and in 1987, he joined the gurdwara committee and continued to be a part of it for ten to twelve years.