PLEA’s 16th IMLD Celebration

IMG_9549 copyPLEA’s 16th IMLD Celebration

February 24, 2019

Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA) had a very successful International Mother Language Day (IMLD) celebration at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) campus on Saturday, February 23. PLEA had been eager to establish partnership with an educational institution for quite some time. The Deepak Binning Foundation (DBF), a staunch and long- time supporter of PLEA finally opened KPU’s doors for it. Recently, DBF donated $200,000 to KPU for scholarships for needy students. In consultation with KPU, it set the stage for partnership between PLEA and the university. KPU offered its facility to PLEA to hold its function(s) on its campus in Surrey. It was in this context that PLEA held its 16th IMLD in the Spruce Building atrium. PLEA is very thankful to both DBF and KPU for this. PLEA is also very thankful to KPU for looking after audiovisual, equipment and refreshments etc. for this function.

PLEA Board member Parabjot Kaur commenced the celebration by welcoming the attendees and representatives of KPU and DBF. As PLEA president, I had the honour to extend a very warm welcome to the attendees, thank the South Asian media and provide an update of PLEA’s activities, successes and future aspirations. The attendees were provided with an overview of the elementary, secondary and post-secondary institutions where Punjabi classes have been under way. It is very gratifying to note that last September two more elementary schools in Surrey-T.E.Scott and Chimney Hill- were added to the four elementary schools where Punjabi classes are offered now. Similarly, Punjabi is available in nine secondary schools in Surrey, two in New Westminster, Burnaby South, North Delta and five schools in Abbotsford. In addition to that four universities-UBC, SFU, UFV and KPU are also offering Punjabi classes.

L.A. Matheson teacher and community activist Annie Ohana gave a very inspiring keynote address emphasizing the role and importance of mother tongue .She impressed the audience by presenting her own story/ experience in this regard.

This year’s celebration had a very strong focus on student participation. The attendees enjoyed and appreciated the work of students displayed at the celebration. 14 students from various schools presented beautiful recitations of  poems, short stories, songs and essays speeches in a very impressive manner. They included : Sukhman Kambo, Sahib Kambo( Green Timbers Elementary),Gurjit Randhawa (KPU), Rajveer Kaler,Sami Gill,Harleen Phagura,Harmeen Phagura,Keerat Dhillon, Ashmeen Gill ((Princess Margaret Secondary),Raveen Grewal,Prabhjot Vashisht , Karman Gill, Amanveer Kaur and Jasmeen Dhaliwal,(L.A.Matheson). All of these students impressed the audience with the high quality and commendable presentations. In addition to that, the audience was treated to a short film-Talaq (Divorce) prepared by L.A. Matheson students Rasveen, Jasmeen Saini, Komal Dhami, Puneet Bains ,Keerat Kalair,and Haman Gill. It related to the issues concerning marriage problems in the Punjabi community.

On behalf of PLEA ,Sadhu Binning and I were honoured to present Certificates of Appreciation and two books each( written by students ) as token of our appreciation.

PLEA Vice President Sadhu Binning urged the community to get actively involved in promoting Punjabi at every level. He issued a challenge to everyone present to approach the decision makers in Ottawa to revisit the national language policy. Sadhu stressed that it is strange that despite our community’s contribution to Canada for more than 120 years, our mother tongue Punjabi is still considered as a foreign language. It has been overdue to get the “landed immigrant” status for our mother tongue Punjabi in this country.

PLEA recognized the contribution of two prominent members of our community for their excellent contribution to Punjabi language education and presented them with plaques. They are Surrey School Trustee Garry Thind and PMSS teacher Preet Dhillon. Both Garry and Preet have done an excellent job in promoting Punjabi in Surrey and PLEA is very thankful to both of them. Finally, PLEA is very thankful to the South Asian media, its volunteers and the community for their on-going support and efforts in creating more pride in our mother tongue Punjabi. PLEA is pleased to receive a Certificate of Appreciation from Legislative Assembly of British Columbia which was presented by Surrey MLAs Bruce Ralston, Rachna Singh, Jinny Sims, Jagrup Brar and Harry Bains. Also, I would like to thank everyone who took the time to join us on this occasion and helped in many ways. All of this would not have been possible without the hard work of PLEA’s dedicated members of the Board of Directors: Sadhu Binning, Parabjot Kaur , Harmohanjit Singh Pandher, Dayah Johal, Paul Binning, Parvinder Dhariwal, Rajinder Singh Pandher, and Ranbir Johal.

Balwant Sanghera

President , Punjabi Language Education Association

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PLEA’s 16th IMLD Feb. 23rd 2019

PLEA Feb.23, 2019.Poster.Eng

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International Mother Language Day (Feb. 28, 2015)

 |With Thanks from LINK 

International Mother’s Day Celebrated Around The Globe


International Mother Language Day (IMLD) is celebrated around the globe on February 21. As a result of lobbying by a number of countries led by Bangla Desh, UNESCO had declared February 21 as the IMLD on November17, 1999. Since then, this day is celebrated around the globe with a great deal of enthusiasm by people honouring their mother language.

Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA) has been celebrating IMLD for the past twelve years. This year again, PLEA, along with a large number of well-wishers of Punjabi, celebrated this event on Saturday, February 21 at the North Delta Recreation Centre in Delta. The audience included large number students, teachers, writers, journalists, community activists and other prominent members of the community.

PLEA’s Board members Paul Binning, Parvinder Dhariwal, Parabjot Kaur, Jasmilan Lehal, Dayah Johal,Ranbir Johal,Harmohanjit Pandher, Sadhu Binning, Rajinder Pandher and other  numerous  helpers and volunteers did an excellent job in ensuring that everything went smoothly. Bhupinder Lalli and her family were kind enough to provide tea and mouthwatering refreshments. PLEA’s youngest Board member and Kwantlen Polytechnic University student Parabjot Kaur with guidance from Parvinder Dhariwal and Jasmilan did a great  job as the MC. This year, an exciting development worth note was the proclamation of declaring February 21 as the International Mother Language Day by the Lieutenant Governor and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of BC. For this, PLEA is very thankful to the provincial government and hopes that it will also financially support teaching of Punjabi in our public schools.

The program started with two melodious Gurdas Mann songs sung by talented singer Hardeep Virk. I had the honour of welcoming the guests and giving an update about PLEA’s successes and challenges. On the plus side, PLEA, along with the well-wishers of Punjabi ,can be proud of a number of accomplishments over the years. As a result of our efforts, Punjabi classes are under way in various elementary and secondary schools in British Columbia. In addition to that, Punjabi is being taught at the University of British Columbia,Kwantlen Polytechnic University and University of the Fraser Valley. Hopefully, Punjabi classes will also resume at Simon Fraser University before long. In Canada , Punjabi now has the honour of being the third most spoken language after English and French. In cities like Surrey, Abbotsford and Brampton Punjabi is the second most spoken language after English.

Due to a very large consumer base of Punjabis, Punjabi is being embraced not only by various government agencies but also by the corporate sector. It is great to see signs like “We Speak Punjabi” at various hospitals, city halls, public places, businesses and agencies. Our Vancouver International Airport has the unique distinction of having Punjabi signage and providing services in Punjabi . Insurance Corporation of BC’s recently  instituted   claim service in Punjabi and OMNI TV’s national hockey broadcast in Punjabi are great developments. PLEA has approached a number of airlines to provide services in Punjabi on their  flights from Vancouver,Calgary,Edmonton and Toronto. Hopefully, if enough Punjabi passengers advocate such services the airlines might be able to oblige. Similarly, PLEA is very pleased about increasing signage in Punjabi by the business community.

PLEA was very pleased to have a large number of well-wishers of Punjabi join it for the celebration. Surrey Newton MLA Harry Bains has been one of our strongest  supporters . He took the time out of his busy schedule to bring greetings, congratulate PLEA  and offer his continued support. Similarly, newly elected member of the Surrey Board of Education , Gurpreet (Garry )Thind assured PLEA of his on-going commitment to promoting Punjabi in the Surrey School District. Students of Punjabi classes, Aionroop Kaur, Navdeep Kooner, Biantveer Dhillon and Mohjeet Chhina, thrilled the packed hall with their beautiful Punjabi poems and songs. OMNI TV’s veteran reporter/anchor Dilbar Kang emphasized the job opportunities in Canada in general and Metro Vancouver in particular for individuals well versed in Punjabi.  He stated that at OMNI TV alone there are close to ten journalists who are working there as a result of their command of the Punjabi language as well as their abilities in journalism.

Sadhu Binning briefly described the provincial language policy, its strengths and shortcomings. He was joined by three Surrey teachers-Gurpreet Kaur Bains (LA Matheson) , Amandeep Kaur Chhina(Princess Margaret) and Harmohanjit Singh Pandher(Beaver Creek)to comment on the policy and offer  suggestions for improvement. All of them did an excellent job in emphasizing the importance of Punjabi and challenges facing them in schools. They  were very optimistic about the future of Punjabi and  made a number of very valuable suggestions to promote it.

The formal presentations were followed by a question and answer session. A number of prominent members of the community made excellent suggestions for PLEA and the community. The speakers included poet Mohinderdeep Singh Grewal, Balwinder Singh Chahal, Sukhwant Hundal, Col Hajit Singh Bassi, Brigadier Nasseb Singh Heer, Raj Gill, Barjinder Dhillon and many others.

On behalf of PLEA I would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to the Deepak Binning Foundation for its continued support. This year, Khalsa Credit Union(KCU) has also been kind enough to make a substantial financial contribution for this celebration. I would like to offer my thanks to the KCU Board and management for its support. Of course, we are always very thankful to the South Asian media –both electronic and print –for its continued support. All of the Punjabi newspapers as well the community’s English newspapers, including The LINK, have been very generous in conveying PLEA‘s message to the community. Our TV outlets including OMNI Punjabi, Des Pardes, Sur Sagar TV and many others have been very kind in their on-going support. Our radio stations have also done a marvelous job in conveying PLEA’s message to our community. For this we are very thankful to all of them including Radio Red FM 93.1, Mediawaves 1600 AM, Radio KRPI 1550AM, Spice Radio 1200 AM,Sur Sagar Radio Gurbani Channel 91.5 FM , My FM 106.9FM and many others.

PLEA has been actively promoting Punjabi for more than twenty years. During this time, there have been various successes as well as challenges. However, overall, we have come a long way in promoting Punjabi not only in BC’s public schools but also at the post-secondary level and the community-at-large. These efforts have gained wide recognition not only in Canada but also in many other parts of the world including Punjab. This is a great credit to the community. With its limited resources, PLEA can do only so much. However, collectively we can accomplish a lot. In this context, I would like to urge/invite all well-wishers of Punjabi not only in Canada but also around the globe to act as ambassadors for our mother language in promoting it.

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PLEA’s 15th Annual International Mother Language Day Pictures

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PLEA’s 15th Annual International Mother Language Day Celebration

PLEA’s 15th Annual Mother Language Day

Parvinder Dhariwal

Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA) held its 15th annual Mother Language Day celebration on January 20th at the North Delta Recreation Centre. The program consisted of important discussions about the implementation of Punjabi language teaching in more public schools in Surrey. Along with various speakers who discussed the important issues, a large number of students participated with their poems, songs and speeches. The program was mc’d by Parabjot Singh.

PLEA President Balwant Sanghera welcomed the attendees and stated that this year’s main focus is to encourage the parents to enroll their children in grade 5 Punjabi classes. He said that there are several elementary schools in Surrey where it is possible to have Punjabi classes due to the large number of Punjabi students in those schools. This year’s keynote speaker Jag Khosa, a police officer and a prominent community activist spoke about the importance of teaching children Punjabi. He emphasized how crucial it is to speak Punjabi with children at home from a young age. In detail, Khosa highlighted just how much of an asset Punjabi is to him in his professional life. He also stated that along with teaching children Punjabi, parents should take the opportunity to learn English and have libraries in their homes. Prominent Punjabi scholar Dr. Sadhu Singh stated that sectarianism has caused the most harm to the Punjabi language. While speaking about the richness of the Punjabi language he enthralled the audience by reading a passage about colours from his book called “Punjabi Boli Di Virast (The Heritage of the Punjabi Language).” UBC Punjabi Instructor Sukhwant Hundal spoke in detail about significance of Punjabi Wikipedia. He requested that the Punjabi community should contribute to the site, as there is a need for content. Hundal also spoke about a piece he has written about the site that can be accessed here:

Surrey School Trustee Gary Thind, Surrey School Teacher Rabinder Boparai and a parent representative Kewal Tagger participated in panel moderated by Sukhwant Hundal. The main points highlighted in this discussion were how to encourage parents to enroll their children in Punjabi classes.

Along with speaking about the concerns surrounding the implementation of Punjabi in the public school system, the program also featured students reading Punjabi poems, songs and speeches about issues pertaining to the Punjabi language and community. The student participants were: Aman, Tanu, Manu, Sukhman Kaimbo, Manjot Singh, Prabhleen Kaur Grewal, Sharan Sandhu, Humkirat Gill, Taran Poonia, Sunny, Simrat, Amrit, Jasnoor, Sahib, Ravleen, Smriti, Ashmeen, Parleen, Navreet, and Hardeep Virk.

PLEA honoured Gian Singh Thind and Harjinder Sangra for their contribution to the progression of the Punjabi language in Canada. While speaking about Gian Singh Thind, radio host Professor Gurvinder Singh Dhaliwal said that Thind arrived in Canada in 1953 and learned Punjabi. He then started a newspaper for the historical Khalsa Diwan Society Vancouver. While speaking about Harjinder Sangra, Sadhu Binning stated that Canadian born Sangra learned Punjabi and participated in plays produced by Vancouver Sath. She taught Punjabi at UBC’s continuing studies for a number of years and has been teaching Punjabi along with other subjects in Vancouver for many years.

The program concluded with Balwant Sanghera thanking the audience, Punjabi media, the students and the Surrey School Board. He also thanked PLEA members Parvinder Dhariwal, Parabjot Singh, Rajinder Pandher, Harman Pandher, Ranbir Johal, Jas Binning, Paul Binning and Sadhu Binning. Sanghera made a final appeal to parents to enroll their children in Punjabi language classes and to encourage others to do the same.

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PLEA’s 14th Annual International Mother Language Day Celebration – Pictures

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PLEA’s 14th Annual International Mother Language Day Celebration

PLEA’s 14th Annual International Mother Language Day Celebration

Balwant Sanghera

Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA) had a very successful International Mother Language Day celebration on Sunday, February 26. The 14th annual function was held at the North Delta Recreation Centre in Delta. Close to 250 attendees took the time to join us in this celebration. The program started with an impressive poem about Punjabi language by a strong promoter of Punjabi and UBC student Gurinder Mann, followed by a wonderful song “Ma Boli” by Tamanawis Secondary student Harmeet Gill. It was an honour for me as PLEA’s president to welcome the guests, recognize our Board members and give the audience an overview of PLEA’s efforts in promoting Punjabi in BC’s public schools, colleges, universities and the community. It is a great honour for me to work with very dedicated Board members of PLEA. They include Sadhu Binning, Parvinder Dhariwal, Harman Pandher, Parabhjot Kaur, Paul Binning, Ranbir Johal, Rajinder Pandher and Dayah Kaur Johal.

As part of this year’s celebration, PLEA decided to pay tribute to a great Punjabi performer and promoter of Punjabi language, Om Puri, who passed away a few months ago. PLEA’s Sadhu Binning, a close friend of Om Puri paid a very fitting tribute to this stalwart of Bollywood. Former Surrey Newton MP and promoter of Punjabi Jinny Sims commended PLEA for its efforts and urged parents to encourage their children to learn Punjabi. PLEA’s own Parabhjot Kaur emphasized the richness of Punjabi language and literature. Parvinder Dhariwal’s Kwantlen student Lang Kuoch explained the benefits of learning Punjabi. Kuoch, a Canadian of Cambodian heritage spoke about his love for Punjabi and its role in connecting with his Punjabi friends.

Every year, PLEA recognizes a prominent member of our community who has made significant contribution to Punjabi language and the community. Lumber magnate Asa Singh Johal is not only a respected pioneer of our community but also a very generous donor to a variety of causes. These include UBC, BC Children’s Hospital, and many other organizations. Mr. Johal’s generous donation to UBC has made the Punjabi classes possible there over the years. The story of Asa Singh Johal parallels the story of our community’s trials and tribulations in Canada. Mr. Johal, along with his wife Kashmir Kaur Johal and son Darshy took the time to join us on Sunday. Asa Singh Johal was warmly welcomed by the attendees. He was presented with a plaque by the organizers. Mr. Johal thanked PLEA for this honour.

Former OMNI Punjabi TV news manager and one of the voices of Hockey Night in Punjabi, Bhupinder Singh Hundal, presented an impressive picture of Hockey Night in Punjabi’s success, influence and popularity not only in the Punjabi community but also in the community at-large. He mentioned that hockey icons like Wayne Gretzky are also fans of this program and admire his team’s contribution. Bhupinder urged parents and students to be proud of their heritage and take pride in learning Punjabi. Surrey School Board Trustee Garry Thind commended PLEA for its efforts in promoting Punjabi in schools, colleges, universities and community. He pledged his full support to PLEA in this regard.
The main focus of this year’s celebration was to encourage our young students and give them the platform to share their poems, songs and essays with the audience. Here is a list of students who participated: Kamaljit Kaur Bajwa’s grade 5 students from Green Timbers Elementary School in Surrey: Sukhman Kaur Kambo and Sahib Singh Kambo, Ravinder Dhaliwal from Satnam Sangra’s New Westminster Secondary School, Harman Pandher’s grade 5 students from Beaver Creek Elementary School in Surrey: Ravleen Chharahhan, Ashmeen Sandhu, Navreet Virk, Parleen Sahota, Aarmen Sidhu, Surkhab Dhillon, Karn Sandhu. And Ravinder Parhar’s grade 6 Beaver Creek students: Gursagar Dosanjh, Guneet Jhaj, Sidakdeep Lalli, Giya Gill, and Jasmeet Sidhu.

Gurpreet Bains’ students from L.A. Matheson Secondary School in Surrey, Gurneet Kaur Sethi and Harnoor Singh entertained the audience with their lovely poems. Similarly, Amandeep Chhina’s students from Surrey’s Princess Margaret School -Loveleen walia,Ishreet Sran,Tamanpreet Behl,Prableen Rai, Ainroop Kaur- also shared their heartwarming poems with the audience. They were followed by Davinder Dhillon’s Beaver Creek grade 7 class: Rohan Verma, Sukhraj Gill, Karan Bains, Arjun Rai, Seva Pandher, Sehaj Bajwa, Gurdit Auluck, Sukhman Sandhu, Sanvi Jethi and Puneet Bhullar. Tajdeep Sandhu from Tamanawis Secondary was the final student presenter of the day.

Altogether, it was a very well attended and student focused celebration of our mother tongue Punjabi. Each one of the Participants made a commendable contribution to the success of this tribute to Punjabi. MC Harman Pandher, teacher in Surrey and School Trustee in Burnaby, did an excellent job in keeping everything on track. On behalf of PLEA I am very thankful to our media-both electronic and print- for their co-operation and support. Also, I would like to thanks Jas and Paul Binning for their on-going support and looking after the tea and refreshments on Sunday. PLEA is also very thankful to all of the well-wishers of Punjabi and volunteers including Chandra Bodalia, Makhan Tutt, Preet Binning, Navdeep Sidhu, Chandra Bodalia and Sukhwant Hundal. Finally, I would like to thank my fellow Board members, volunteers and the community for their on-going encouragement and support.

Balwant Sanghera

President, Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA)

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