Date of Birth:
Hyderabad, Andra Pradesh, India
Mohini Singh was born in 1960 in Hyderabad, Andra Pradesh, India and immigrated to Canada in 1983 with her family. Her mother had finished her nursing school and decided to immigrate to Canada as there was a shortage of nurses. Her mother’s brother had been living in Canada since he was sixteen and he had received them at Victoria, BC airport. Mohini spent three months in Surrey, BC and then later moved to Vancouver where she and her family spent six years.
She vividly remembers that the owner of their apartment building was a Punjabi who had even offered her family member a job as a manager of the apartment building. Mohini wasn’t aware of the Canadian lingo and faced some difficulties in adjusting and finding a job in Canada. She started working in the Valley Village and worked there for 3 months and later worked at the Credit Union in Vancouver. Mohini also recalls her difficulties in adjusting to the weather and driving on the roads. She says that the learning curve on how to adjust to a new country was very steep for her. According to Mohini, there weren’t many Punjabi people in the 1980’s and 1990’s when compared to now. However, people from all over the province would come to the (Vaisakhi) parade in Vancouver. The majority of the people resided on Main Street and Surrey region.
Mohini went to BCIT and finished her journalism studies and moved to Kelowna, BC for her job in 1989. According to her, there was hardly any Indians living in Kelowna when she moved in 1989. She recalls that whenever she would see an Indian person, she would honk and wave to them. The community was quite small then but it has grown since then. Mohini believes that it’s the price of the land that had attracted people and families to move to Kelowna. The Punjabi and Indian community would celebrate festivals such as Diwali, Gurpurab and Vaisakhi in the gurdwara. The population that time was largely European descent so it was a little bit of adjustment. The Indian community had good relations with the European descent and Indigenous communities.
Mohini recalls stories of Lakha Singh because there is currently a street named after him in Kelowna. She recalls hearing stories that Lakha Singh was a pioneer who had no children and he had a wife in Punjab. He had a Canadian wife, who was a member of the West bank First Nation with whom he had two children. After his death, his wife went penniless due to his lawyer’s greed or something similar to that.
According to Mohini, today, the farming community is so vibrant because of the Punjabi people. People seem to gravitate towards agriculture and the shining key points are the gurdwaras in Rutland. She believes that people are very fortunate to have come to Canada and to be able to live here. She feels it is important for us as a community, to give to Canada, build Canada and to keep Canada the world class country it is. In 2006, on Kelowna’s 100th birthday, Mohini documented and presented the history of Indo-Canadian people in the Okanagan valley. She is a strong believer that the Indian community is thriving, working hard and doing well. She believes that as Indo-Canadians, we have to give to Canada as well but we also have to be proud in where we came from, what we are doing and we together have to work on building the community and the country.