Shiv Jaswal

Village Naro, District Phagwara, Punjab
Current City:
Golden, BC

Shiva Jaswal was born in village Naro, district Phagwara, Punjab, India and immigrated to Canada on March 28, 1978. Shiv was well settled in Bombay, India and had an established and successful business there. His relatives living in Canada had been calling him to Canada for three consecutive years from 1974 but he declined their offers. Finally, after consulting his family, he decided to immigrate to Canada in 1978 to establish himself. He was received by his relatives in Victoria, BC and they brought him to Golden, BC.

His brother and in-laws lived in Canada when he decided to move to Canada. On his arrival, he applied for jobs. Shiv was told by other Punjabis that he wouldn’t get a job unless he cut his hair and his beard, but he did not relent as he wasn’t afraid of not getting a job. An already established business enabled him to sustain himself in Canada for the time being and he did not rush to get a job. Shiv applied in CP Rail and was called to Revel Stoke for the interview. He remembers that the officer was very happy to know about his education, qualification and that he lived in Bombay. He was told to get his medical done and was hired in April 1978, one month after coming to Canada. He worked in CP Rail for 1 year and 8 months and decided to work in the plywood mill. There were only four other Punjabis working in the plywood mill, rest worked in the mill in Donald, BC.

Shiv experienced discrimination when he applied to work in the plywood mill as the white people who had applied after him had gotten jobs but he wasn’t given employment. The employer told him that his turban would result in fights at the workplace and asked him to apply at another mill. He remained patient with this matter and finally got a job after 3 months in the same mill. He worked in the mill till the year 2001 and then retired in 2002. Shiv came as a visitor to Canada and got married to a woman named Mary Caroline. He describes her as the sweetest lady who was active and participated in the Punjabi community. Shiv got his permanent status in 1979 and he continued to work in the mill. Due to some complications, Shiv was divorced in 1986.

According to Shiv, life was better in Canada, the law and order was good and people had a better standard of living. The Canadian cold did not bother him as he had travelled to snow-capped regions in India, when he was in the Indian military. However, he felt the cold when he worked at CP Rail. He remembers that his hands and feet would get cold as he would work outside on the tracks, even in -35 degrees Celsius. Shiv recalls, people worked during the weekdays but enjoyed during the weekends. Everyone would get together at each other’s house and have a good time. There was no gurdwara (Sikh Temple) at the time and there was no concept of Gurbani or any other similar programs during Shiv’s early years in Canada. Shiv was active in the community and took the initiative to construct a gurdwara in Golden, BC. In 1979, he gathered seven people interested in the snow king house, wrote three letters to the concerned offices to be recognized and advertised to the places that the Punjabi community would go to often. He wrote the letters in Punjabi and asked people to think about constructing a gurdwara for the community. Everyone agreed to initiate the construction of the gurdwara in 1979 itself. It was also the first time that people celebrated Vaisakhi in 1979 after his arrival to Golden.

Shiv called his children to Canada in 1987. His daughter is also the first lady to be a part of the council of Golden. Shiv started visiting India frequently after 2004 and has invested in the development of his village back home. Shiv, a student of history, believes that Punjabis came to Canada before 1902 as he possesses a telegram that entails information regarding remittance of $1,000 to India by a person named Santa Singh. According to Shiv, there is also is a book that states that the Sikhs came before 1902. Shiv worked in the mills, worked at the gurdwara and taught children Punjabi. He managed to get books shipped from Amritsar for the library and for educating the children in Golden and paid for all these himself. He served continuously for six years and was also the president of the Sikh Cultural Society, Golden for two years from 1982-1984. Shiv had records and also interviewed people living in Golden about the gurdwara that existed in 1930 and the Punjabis who moved to Vancouver after the gurdwara caught fire and abandoned the building. He interviewed several other community people who would greet him in Punjabi.

Shiv believes that a one should never think badly of anyone, no matter how bad the other person thinks of you. Everyone had different experiences coming to Canada and that we are not different, we should all love each other. There can be no love when there is hate and there can be no hate where there is love. We should all love each other and that there is nothing above love in this world.