Manjit Manhas

Date of Birth:
Punjab, India
Current City:
Golden, BC

Manjit Minhas was born on August 20, 1961 in Punjab, India. He was one year old when he and his family immigrated to England and lived there for appoximately five years. Manjit was five years old when he immigrated to Canada with his mother and sister- they’d been sponsored by his father who had been in Canada six months prior to their arrival. They flew into Calgary and then traveled to Nanaimo where his father was living. Manjit and his family lived in Nanaimo for six months and then moved to the city of Golden to work in the mills in December, 1968. The Minhas family settled in Donald, BC and lived towards the Columbia Valley.

Manjit remembers that the Punjabi community in Donald lived together, cooked together, ate together and slept in the same bunk house. Their community in Golden was very close. Because they all lived together, one person would make rotis, one made the daal (lentil curry) and the sabzi (vegetable curry) and everyone would eat together depending on the shifts at the lumber mill.

Eventually, Manjit’s father rented a trailer where the family lived for lived three years. Manjit says that once the Punjabi community had established itself,  they were able to start buying homes in Golden. Manjit went to school in Donald and later the family moved to Parson.

Manjit recalls that it was difficult because the family was starting over once they immigrated. For example, in order to cook, Manjit’s mother had to search for wood, put it in the stove and heat water which would have to be brought from the well outside. There were seven children in the family, four siblings were with him and his older brother and his sister joined them a few years later in Canada. In the words of Manjit, the winters were harsh, cold and not too many people drove or had vehicles. His father would drive to Calgary to purchase flowers which he would sell in Golden. To get from Donald to Golden to buy groceries, everybody got together and once a month they would carpool to Golden to buy your groceries. Schooling was a bit difficult for him as he was the only brown child in his class and Manjit experienced racism.

The Punjabi community would rent space in a building, then called Snow King’s Castle. The community would have Punjabi functions, prayed and watched Indian movies there. Punjabi people worked hard and people mostly got married in their homes, as did Manjit’s brother. The Gurdwara was built later and on Sundays they were special days for the Punjabi community in Golden.

Manjit identifies himself as a Sikh Indo-Canadian and visits India with his family every two years. He wants his children to know about the culture of India and take them whenever possible.