PLEA’s 11th IMLD April 27, 2014
Report by Balwant Sanghera
April 29, 2014
Punjabi language Education Association (PLEA) had a very successful eleventh annual International Mother Language Day Celebration on Sunday, April 27. The celebration took place at Balti House Restaurant in Surrey. PLEA’s Rajinder Pandher welcomed the attendees and stated that this year’s function was being dedicated to the Komagata Maru Centenary. He then introduced local historian Sohan Pooni. Sohan Pooni is a very prominent member of the community and has done an excellent job in keeping the community well informed of its history-trials and tribulations-in Canada. His talk centred on the theme of Komagata Maru and the Punjabi language. Mr. Pooni stated that this ship and the Punjabi language/community are closely linked to-gether. He stated that the person who leased the ship-Gurdit Singh –as well as all of the passengers were Punjabis. Even the pamphlets designed to attract passengers were printed in Punjabi. Also, the account of the Komagata Maru as described by one of the passengers, in the form of a book in 1920, was written in Punjabi. Furthermore, members of Vancouver’s Khalsa Diwan Society, which played a major role in helping passengers of this ill- fated ship, were Punjabis.
Sadhu Binning and I gave a brief overview of PLEA’s accomplishments and challenges. It is very encouraging to note that Punjabi classes are flourishing in a number of schools and universities spread out throughout the Metro Vancouver area. In addition to that, various City Halls, Boards of Education, offices, hospitals, police stations, credit unions, banks and other institutions and businesses proudly display the signs—“We Speak Punjabi”. PLEA has also been working hard in networking with others in Canada and abroad to promote Punjabi at the national and international levels.
It was great to have a number of elementary and secondary students participate in the celebration. They included Guneetpal Chahal and Sofia Bhullar, both in grade 11 in Ms.Kuldeep Brar’s class at Dasmesh Punjabi School in Abbotsford. They were followed by Harman Dhillon, Amanjeet Kaur, Pavneet Kalsi and Avneet Chhina -all from Amandeep Chhina’s class at Princess Margaret Secondary School in Surrey. Gurpreet Bains’ student Kamaljit Bhullar (L.A. Matheson Sec.) also recited a beautiful poem. The final group of students was from Navpreet Sekhon’s grade six class at Beaver Creek Elementary School in Surrey. Harvir Phagura, Raina Sandhu, Gursharon Bal, Manmeet Sanghera and Navkaran Tiwana read some very entertaining poems.
PLEA member, linguist and UBC student Dayah Johal did an excellent job as MC. On behalf of PLEA, she thanked the students, teachers and parents for their involvement and presented participation certificates to the students. She then introduced Harmohanjit Singh Pandher as the moderator of the panel. Harmohanjit has been teaching at Beaver Creek Elementary School in Surrey and is also a member of the Burnaby Board of Education. He introduced lawyer and community activist Puneet Sandhar of Sanghera Sandhar Law Group and long-time veteran MLA for Surrey Newton, Harry Bains. Harmohanjit brought to their attention a number of challenges facing PLEA. Both Puneet and Harry complimented PLEA for its efforts in promoting Punjabi and assured the organization of their full support. This was followed by a brief question and answer period from the audience.
Management of the Balti House Restaurant, Deepak Binning Foundation, prominent singer Sukhi Lali, and the media –electronic and print were thanked for their on-going support for PLEA. Also, parents of Chimney Hill Elementary School Surrey and Kewal Taggar were thanked for their efforts to get Punjabi classes under way there. On behalf of PLEA I would also like to thank my fellow Board members, especially our secretary Parvinder Dhariwal and Paul Binning for working very hard in making this celebration a great success. Also, PLEA is very thankful to the South Asian media-both electronic and print-for its on-going support,Harpreet Sekha, Mohinder Singh(High Speed Printing),Chandra Bodalia and the Chilanas(Wordbook) . Finally, our sincere thanks go to everyone who took the time to join us in celebrating Punjabi language.