Jaswinder Johal

Date of Birth:
Village Tiwana, Hoshiarpur, Punjab
Current City:
Kelowna, BC

Jaswinder Johal was born in the village of Tiwana, Hoshiarpur in Punjab, India in the year 1961. Her two elder brothers came to Canada in 1972 and after settling in, sponsored the rest of their family to come to Canada in 1975 – Jaswinder, her parents and two brothers. Jaswinder was only fourteen years old when she first came to Canada and she was very excited to come to Canada. She and her family took a flight from New Delhi to Calgary via Bangkok and Vancouver, BC.

She recalls that when she got here, it was the month of February and was very cold. After settling in, she started with her grade 9 schooling in Calgary, AB. Initially, it was difficult for her because she didn’t really speak English at that time. Some kids at school used to make fun of her, and make racist remarks such as calling her a “paki.” She also recalls walking in the snow to attend ESL classes and her feet used to freeze as she wasn’t used to the snow. But she did make a friend – who is still her best friend – a girl from Madras, India who used to help her cope up with her courses at school. After completing her high school, she went to study at a college, graduated and started working.

Jaswinder was married in 1994 to a man from India. Her husband, though he was a trained engineer by profession in India, he was unable to find a proper job in Calgary and had to drive a taxi to survive. This is because most of the educational credentials from India were not accepted and recognized in Canada. Thus, they eventually moved to Penticton and started running a motel.

According to Jaswinder there were a lot of Punjabi families there at the time mostly working in the farming industry. There was also a gurdwara where people used to go and meet other people from the community.

Jaswinder feels that she has been very lucky that her brothers were already here in Canada when she moved here with her parents because they helped pave the road for her and she didn’t had to struggle much. Her brother had to struggle a lot though, and worked very hard working multiple jobs to get their immigration status and get settled in Canada. Jaswinder and her family now reside in Kelowna, BC.