Sohan Khalsa, District Jalandhar, Punjab
Prince George, BC
Paramjit Bagri was born in Sohan Khalsa, District Jalandhar, Punjab. She came to Canada through an arranged marriage after completing the tenth grade in India. She flew from New Delhi to Japan, where she stayed for the night, and then continued on to Vancouver. When she first arrived to Canada on December 7, 1978, she had a permanent resident status. She stayed in Vancouver for approximately two weeks, and then she got married on December 30, 1978. After her marriage, she stayed in Burnaby for two weeks at her in-laws home, and then the married couple made the journey up to Prince George, where they have been living ever since.
She recalls English as causing many difficulties during her first five years in Canada, as she did not know the language. She had to work many odd jobs in order to get by. She worked as a dishwasher, and remembers this job to be difficult to obtain. She only received it through a connection of a family friend. However, working as a dishwasher was tough, and her husband did not want her to do this type of work. Rather, Paramjit Kaur was interested in studying.
Paramjit Kaur was able to return to high school in 1992, after her children were educated. She worked hard to receive her graduation diploma. Upon receiving her diploma, she has worked a variety of other jobs, including fast food places, restaurants, gas stations, call centres, and in quality assurance. She remembers it being difficult to obtain jobs when she first immigrated, and that in general, the Punjabi ladies did not work much during the first five to six years. She remembers not knowing English as being a big hindrance in obtaining jobs.
Back when she first immigrated, there was a big Punjabi community in Prince George. As individuals became invested in their own personal lives, and extended families began to immigrate, she recalls the community life beginning to decrease. When she first moved to Canada, she was also told to wear western clothes whenever she went out of the house for fear of being discriminated against.
She remembers discrimination occurring often. For example, once, as she was walking in the park with her young son, a little girl went up to the duo and called then Hindus. Paramjit Kaur had to explain that they were Sikhs, not Hindus, and she was appalled at the way the girl’s mother did not try and teach her child that she was wrong.
As well as this, back when Paramjit Kaur worked at A&W fast food restaurant, she was unfairly laid off from her job. Although her supervisor always gave her a specific shift, she believes that her co-workers became jealous of her. As a result of this jealousy, the supervisor decided to change her shift, and when she was unable to adjust to the new work schedule, she was laid off. Paramjit Kaur started a case against her supervisor, where she won and was awarded two weeks of pay, as well as an apology.
Her family slowly began to immigrate to Canada. She adopted her niece in 1988, and later her sister was also able to come. Meanwhile, her husband’s extended relatives were all already settled in Canada. Paramjit Kaur is very grateful for her husband’s family for enabling her family to come to Canada.