Advisory Committee – South Asian Canadian Labour History Research

Dr. Satwinder Kaur Bains

Dr. Satwinder Kaur Bains is the Director of the South Asian Studies Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley and is an Associate Professor in Social Cultural Media Studies. Her current research interests include migration, settlement, and integration; cross-cultural education and curriculum implementation; race, racism, and ethnicity; identity politics; South Asian Canadian Diaspora studies and Punjabi Canadian cultural historiographies. Satwinder has extensive years of professional experience in community development and has worked extensively with organizations in the area of cross-cultural mental health, immigrant women, youth, and families and on diversity, equity, inclusion, cross cultural development, women’s rights, and socio-religious interfaith dialogue. She serves the community as a diversity educator, community developer and community activist in the field of anti-racism and immigrant settlement integration.

Anita Lal

Anita Lal is a fourth-generation settler, born and raised in so called ‘British Columbia’ on the traditional territory of Lhtako Dene and Semiahmoo, Katzie and Kwantlen First Nations. Her Biji, Thakuri Kaur Lal, instilled in her the Sikh values of seva, social justice and advocacy from a young age. These values fuel her work as the co-founder of Poetic Justice Foundation where she has been creating impactful and transformative programming, organizing, and activating the South Asian community. Her approach is always inclusive, intersectional, and critical; she draws attention to biases, inequalities and oppressive systems of racism and discrimination. Recently, her work has focused on creating space and dialogue around anti-casteism and the Dalit narrative. Anita strongly believes in giving back to the community and serves on Boards and Advisory Committees such as the South Asian Canadian Legacy Project, the South Asian Studies Institute at the University of the Fraser Valley, and Seva Thrift Society. She also undertakes consulting work for the Royal Academy of Bhangra and Moving Forward Family Services, community-based organizations that work with marginalized people. She is inspired by Dr. Ambedkar’s words: Educate. Agitate. Organize.

Moninder Lalli

Ms. Moninder Kaur Lalli is a librarian at Simon Fraser University who was part of a team that developed the vision for the Komagata Maru Website, a project funded by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration under their Community Historical Recognition Program (CHRP) ( It is a key resource on the history of the Indo-Canadian community, and includes digitized content such as the rare diary of the Khalsa Diwan Society by Arjan Singh Chand, an out-of-print book by Giani Kesar Singh on the Komagata Maru, Sushma Datt’s documentary for the 75th Anniversary of the Komagata Maru and President Nehru’s speech. Moninder has been instrumental in the development of the South Asian collection at the SFU Library, including oral histories, photographs, books, manuscripts, diaries and magazines. As Chair of the Library Programme Advisory Committee of the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, she oversees the program which obtains scholarly material published in India for Canadian academic libraries. Moninder has assisted faculty, community members and institutions such as the Vancouver Maritime Museum with their research. In 2014, she was recognized for her work on the Komagata Maru website and the preservation of the history of the Sikh community. Moninder is also an artist with several solo exhibits to her credit.

Harinder Mahil

Harinder Mahil was part of the British Columbia’s human rights system for 10 years – Chair, BC Council of Human Rights from 1992-1996; Deputy Chief Commissioner, BC Human Rights Commission from 1997-2001; and Acting Chief Commissioner, BC Human Rights Commission during 2001-02.

Mr Harinder Mahil has been an anti-racist and human-rights activist since the 1970s.  Over the last 48 years he has worked for the New Westminster local of the International Woodworkers of America (IWA), the Province of British Columbia and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada. He was one of the founders of the BC Organization to Fight Racism and of the Canadian Farmworkers’ Union. He served as chair of the British Columbia Council of Human Rights from 1992 to 1997 and as deputy chief commissioner of the British Columbia Human Rights Commission from 1997 to 2002. He was acting chief commissioner of the British Columbia Human Rights Commission when the former Liberal government of British Columbia decided to enact legislation to do away with the commission.

Mr. Mahil was a member of the Canadian delegation to the 1993 United Nations World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna. Since 2011 he has been a board member of the Dr. Hari Sharma Foundation for South Asian Advancement.

Amrita Sanford

Amrita comes from a family of strong labour leaders and activists.  Growing up in the lower mainland, she spent much of her childhood attending rallies and marching on picket lines to support workers.  Her family would often attend or host events to promote social justice and racial equality and these early experiences shaped her values and determination to continue to fight for equity and justice for all.

Amrita is a graduate of Simon Fraser University and since 2004, she has been working as a staff representative for the BC Government and Service Employees Union.  Currently working in the BCGEU’s negotiations department, Amrita has bargained collective agreements on behalf of workers in the healthcare, community social services and Indigenous services sectors.

She has a keen interest in history and in particular the recognition and preservation of the struggles and achievements faced by the South Asian community within the labour movement in BC.

Par Sihota

Par was born in Duncan, BC on Vancouver Island in 1957 and spent his early childhood in Lake Cowichan, 16 miles west of Duncan.  His great grandfather, grandfather and father all worked in sawmills so he was raised in an IWA (International Woodworkers of America) household.  At the age of ten the family moved to Burnaby, BC as the mill where his father worked had closed and he got a job at Fraser Mills in Coquitlam.

Par’s first job was working at Fraser Mills while going to high school and later to college.  He was a member of the IWA.  He graduated from Cariboo Hill Secondary in Burnaby and then attended Langara College where he took the Finance & Investment course.

In 1979 Par moved to Terrace, BC to work for the Toronto Dominion Bank for a year followed by a year selling office furniture and equipment.  In 1981 he moved back to Vancouver and did several sales jobs until 1986 when he joined the Hongkong Bank of Canada until 1992.

In 1992 Par moved to Victoria, BC to work for the government caucus and then from 1996 until 2001 as a ministerial assistant to several different cabinet ministers.  He has been with CSCU (Community Savings Credit Union) since 2004.  CSCU was formed by a small group of IWA members in 1944 and is BC’s largest fully unionized credit union.  He is a Union Liaison Officer, co-managing the union portfolio of the credit union and a member of UFCW Local 1518.

The history of Par’s family has made him who he is today; he is committed to racial and social justice as well as equity and fairness in the workplace.

Donna Sacuta

Donna Sacuta is Executive Director of the BC Labour Heritage Centre, a position she has held since January 2017. Prior to becoming Executive Director, Donna worked as a Project Manager for the Centre and established the Plaques Around the Province Project to bring labour history stories to local communities.

Born and raised in British Columbia she has lived in many regions including Fernie, Vancouver, Kamloops, Fort St John and Prince George. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Highest Honours) in Labour Studies from Carleton University (Ottawa). Donna has worked for the BC Government and Service Employees Union, has held positions on local labour councils and various community and political organizations around the province.

Bailey Garden

Bailey Garden is a social, political and environmental activist originally from Calgary, AB. She is the Project Manager at the BC Labour Heritage Centre, as well as the creator of the Centre’s Oral History Workshop & Guide. Bailey is an alumnus of Simon Fraser University and has worked on several oral history research projects based around British Columbia, on a wide range of subjects including labour, land use, industry, immigration, diversity and more. She is a proud member of UFCW 1518.