Sikandar Singh Grewal
Date of Birth:
Village Sherpur, Ludhiana, Punjab
Prince George, BC
Sikander Singh Grewal was born in the village of Sherpur Khurd, district Ludhiana, Punjab, India on March 10, 1962. He came to Canada in 1972 through sponsorship by his elder brother, who lived in Canada. Sikander and his family landed in Vancouver and moved to Canada as permanent residents.
The family was received by their elder brother Jaswant Singh Grewal, and they all travelled to Prince George, BC, where Jaswant worked. Sikander was only 15 years old when he came to Canada. He grew up in a village and wasn’t aware of the life outside his village and he did not know English back then.
His brother Tajinder Singh Grewal and his younger sister started going to school. Sikandar wasn`t interested in studies and he decided to work. He went to Vancouver where he did babysitting for a relative, distributed newspapers downtown and worked in Whistler. Sikander was interested in sports and was a part of the Kabadi team in Prince George, making Prince George the first city to introduce Kabadi as a sport in Canada.
Sikander started playing Kabadi in 1977, represented Prince George and went on to play for Quesnel. Furthermore, he represented Canada in California and India in Kabadi sport. Even now, Sikander and his family have been sponsoring the players of Prince George and of the national Kabadi federation in Vancouver.
Coming back to his early days, Sikandar moved to Fort Nelson, BC after living in Vancouver, where he had worked for two years. He faced a lot of language problems and discrimination because people did not have enough knowledge about Sikhs at that time. So he decided to move back to Prince George after working for two years at Fort Nelson. He then worked at Canfor pulp mill for twenty-four years.
Sikandar remembers that the Punjabi community in Prince George was small back then and people with different ethnicities would break the gurdwara windows. Members of the Sikh community would stay at the gurdwara and secure the gurdwara by taking turns. When he would go shopping for groceries, the people would snatch his groceries and the police wouldn’t take his cases seriously. His father was the president of the gurdwara and his parents spent a lot of time on their children’s culture and upbringing. They did not let him or his siblings be affected by the change of being in a different country.
Sikander faced many difficulties in his work life. His employer would ask him to eat lunch outside in the cold and he wasn’t promoted in the organization he worked with. The year 1984 changed the perception of people in Canada and they slowly learnt about Sikhism. The government supported immigration back then and Sikander believed that the situation would change in the coming years.
Sikander is fifty-six years old and often visits India to manage the ancestral property back home. He believes that the Punjabi community struggled a lot and that over the years, the community has successfully built a bridge for other Punjabis coming to Canada now.