Date of Birth_
Prince George, BC
Gurpreet Bagri grew up in Prince George, Canada, to mother Paramjit Bagri, and father Inderjit Bagri. Here, he had a unique cultural experience coming from a Punjabi background. He would speak English between his friends, and Punjabi with his parents and elders. He recalls a lot of discrimination in the 1980’s and 1990’s, where some people would even cause physical altercations with Punjabi people. Gurpreet’s school had less than five people that were Punjabi, and he recalls that white people would bully the First Nations students, and in turn, the First Nations would bully the Punjabi students. Gurpreet’s older cousin moved to Prince George at age 8, where he faced a lot of discrimination due to his appearance. In the 1990’s, it was difficult to obtain jobs for individuals of ethnic backgrounds. However, as the community grew, the discrimination began to decrease.
As the South Asian population of Prince George grew, celebrating South Asian traditions and customs became more common. When Gurpreet was younger, he did not have the opportunity to understand or properly celebrate such traditions. For entertainment, they would read books. However, now, Gurpreet enjoys celebrating different festivals such as Vaisakhi and Raksha Bandhan. Gurpreet also believes that the internet has helped spread awareness about these festivals, and that people are able to complete their own research on such events.
Gurpreet recalls that growing up, women did not work and would stay back to look after the children. Once a year, he would attend a soccer tournament where all the Punjabi children would get together along with their fathers. Unfortunately, as he grew older, the families became busier and they no longer met up each year. He also feels as though the youth are not attending the Gurdwara as often as the previous generation, whereas it was once a central part of the community.
Gurpreet believes in the importance of passing traditions down the generational line and ensuring that language is not lost. Once the language is lost, the culture is also lost. There was a time period when Gurpreet did not remember how to speak Punjabi; however, attending Gurmat camps at the local Gurdwara helped him regain his language skills. He also believes in the importance of staying involved in the local community, and he has also worked with the Canadian Cancer Society and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.