Gurmit Kaur Saran

Date of Birth:
April 9, 1934
Village Lalliyan, District  Jalandhar, Punjab
Current City:
Kelowna, BC



Gurmit Kaur Saran was born on April 9, 1934 in the village Lalliyan, Jalandhar in Punjab, India. She came to Canada in 1969 after her husband sponsored her. Her husband was sponsored by his father in 1962 who was first sponsored by his sister in 1955. When Gurmit came to Canada, her flight from Vancouver, BC to Kamloops, BC was delayed. She met a Punjabi family at the airport who let her and her children stay the night because her flight was delayed and in the morning, they dropped them off at the airport. From Kamloops she went to Kelowna on a bus. She and her husband made a living by working at a nursery earning $7 an hour. In the beginning she lived with her family on a farm and there was no running water or bathrooms inside. In order to get water, she would go outside and pump the water. She bathed her kids in a small portable tub made out of steel. During the first little bit of her journey, she would sit outside and cry because she felt that she had left everything for nothing. After two years of hard work, she and her husband bought their own home for $25,000. There were only five other Punjabi families here at the time. The first gurdwara was built 35 years ago and everyone had donated $50 a month to pay for its construction.

When her daughter got married, they made the sweets at Kamloops and had another Punjabi family read the wedding vows from the Sikh scriptures. In order to get clothes for the wedding, they had to go to a specific shop which was very small but it was the only one that had Punjabi suits. Gurmit went back and visited India after 10 years in 1979. They didn’t face much discrimination when they came as she felt that all the other ethnicities were very nice to them. One story Gurmej recalls during hard times was when her father-in-law told her children that since they didn’t have much money, they shouldn’t eat bread. Her children would instead eat it secretly when they were at school because all of the other kids would say that they were eating rubber. However soon all the other kids started to enjoy Indian food. They would go over to her house and eat. Gurmit’s aunt had come to Canada first on a ship and she told her stories that if anyone died while they were on it, they would just toss them into the ocean. Because of this traumatic experience, her aunt never went back to India although Gurmej did sponsor her brother in 1971.