Category Archives: Indian Canadians

This Sikh woman has just become Canada’s 1st woman House leader

Bardish Chagger, the 36-year-old Waterloo MP and the country’s minister of small business and tourism, was among 19 Indian-origin candidates who won in last year’s general elections

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Indo-Canadian MP Bardish Chagger has been named the new leader of the government in Canada’s House of Commons, thus becoming the first woman in the country’s history to hold the post, reports PTI.

Chagger, the 36-year-old Waterloo MP and minister of small business and tourism, was among 19 Indian-origin candidates who won in last year’s general elections.

“This is a tremendous opportunity. I have been involved in the political process for basically my whole life,” Chagger told reporters on Parliament Hill after her swearing-in. “I know what democracy should look like. Democracy should be engaging Canadians. That is the leadership of our prime minister and that’s why the whole of government approach will work for Canada,” she was quoted as saying by CBC News.

Replacing Dominic LeBlanc, she is now the first woman in Canadian history to hold the job of guiding government legislation through Parliament.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his “confidence in minister Chagger as a worthy successor”, the report said, citing a government statement.

On the first day on the job, Chagger said she “really does believe that we can all work together”. “…let’s work with the team and let’s get there,” she said.

Chagger, who was born and raised in the Waterloo region, attended the University of Waterloo where she was the president of the Young Liberals. She will retain her title as minister along with the new role.

She is one of the four Sikh Canadians inducted into Trudeau’s Cabinet besides defence minister Harjit Sajjan – a combat veteran who did three tours in Afghanistan as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, infrastructure minister Amarjeet Sohi and innovation minister Navdeep Singh Bains.

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So cute! This Indian-origin couple have just been declared the longest-married pair in New Zealand

Jeram Ravji and Ganga Ravji, who will turn 100 in May and June respectively, have been married for 81 years; four generations of the family now live in Auckland

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Jeram Ravji and Ganga Ravji, both born in 1916 in India, will turn 100 on May 4 and June 6, respectively. As was the tradition when they were growing up, children were often married at a very young age. In this amazing couple’s case, they were betrothed at six years of age in 1922 – almost 94 years ago.

However, as was also the tradition, they didn’t live together as man and wife until of age and in this case that commenced in April 1935 when they were 19 years old – almost 81 years ago.

The Ravjis have now been awarded the title of New Zealand’s longest-married couple by lobby group Family First. Their prize includes a professional photo with their extended family, which includes six children, 15 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren, all living in Auckland (see below). Four generations of the family now live in Auckland.

Longest-Married-Couple-1-1958.jpg

At one stage while living in India, Jeram became a part of the freedom fighters’ movement under Mahatma Gandhi against the British rule in the country. He apparently had to serve 10 months in prison for his involvement, and his wife was often beaten by the police attempting to get information out of her as to the location of her husband.

So what keeps the couple going? As per Ganga, the key to a good marriage was to learn to make sacrifices and to take the good with the bad. Speaking to NZ Herald through her daughter Bhanu Daji, Ganga said she put her long-lasting and happy marriage down to not dwelling on bad times and moving forward.

“[The advice] we would give to our children if they had difficulties with their marriage would be you have to work hard, you have to have tolerance – that’s the most important part, tolerance,” she said.

Not given to sentimentality, the Ravjis nevertheless told the NZ Herald they love each other just as much now as they always have. Jeram said he could not immediately list the reasons he loved his wife, but “if we didn’t still love each other we would not still be together”.

Jeram moved to New Zealand in 1928 when he was 11, five years after the pair became betrothed at age 6. They married at 19 and lived as a family in New Zealand from 1953, first in Whanganui before moving to Auckland in 1981.

Pics courtesy: Screenshot, NZ Herald

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The teen who became PM for a day

Punjabi-origin Brampton resident Prabjote Lakhanpal sat on the biggest decision-making chair of Canada, courtesy Make-A-Wish Foundation

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Prabjote ‘PJ’ Lakhanpal, 19, had to pinch himself to see if it was true. Who wouldn’t have, considering he got to be PM for a day? In fact, that was just the first surprise planned for him as part of a “VIP itinerary” that includes a tour of Parliament, a swearing-in ceremony, a media scrum following question period, and — in true prime ministerial fashion — getting his own security detail.

The Brampton teen of Punjabi origin is currently in remission following a battle with Hodgkin lymphoma, a form of cancer affecting the body’s immune system. The disease made him a candidate for Make-A-Wish, a foundation that grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions.

“It was amazing to go to Parliament Hill in Ottawa as Prime Minister for a day. No one in any other country can even envisage something like this. I never expected all this even in my wildest dreams,” he told The Times of India.

When Lakhanpal learned that he was eligible to be granted a wish, the politics, economics and law buff knew right away he wanted to be the nation’s leader. “I wanted to come up with a wish that was extraordinary that nobody else has ever done and a wish that you can never buy with money, that is priceless essentially,” the York University student told Metro Morning host Matt Galloway recently. “This is not like going to Disney World.”

Talking to The Times of India, PJ says, “I want to pursue law at Osgood Hall Law School. My ultimate goal is to be a politician, my nation’s leader, so that I may serve the people in a better way.” He said he was thankful to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Canada which made his dream come true. “You know, I’ve battled cancer. There’s nothing worse than that. So, I’m ready to take this on in the future,” he added.

PJ Lakhanpal’s parents and grandparents had migrated from India to Canada from a small town of Punjab, Mandi Ahmedgarh. His father Surinder Mohan Singh Lakhanpal said he came to Canada in 1988 and now runs an auto mechanic shop there.

PJ was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, a form of cancer affecting the body’s immune system. About two and a half years ago, when he was in the hospital, The Make-A-Wish Foundation that grants wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions, made him a candidate for the foundation.

“Prime Minister PJ met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this afternoon in his office to discuss politics, future goals and to share special gifts. They also practiced their official ‘PJ Pose’. Thank you, Prime Minister Trudeau, for granting this magical wish and for helping spread hope, strength and joy! What an exciting day this has been! ‪#‎PjsPMwish‬,” Make-A-Wish Canada was quoted as saying on social media soon after PJ’s wish was fulfilled.

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A burger in honour of Canada’s first Sikh defence minister Harjit Sajjan

The snack has been named ‘The Minister of National Deliciousness’

harjit-sajjan-burger

India At Large staff

Canada’s first Sikh defence minister Harjit Singh Sajjan now has a chicken burger named after him and it is called ‘The Minister of National Deliciousness’.

Sajjan tasted the burger for the first time at the Cannibal Cafe in Vancouver recently. Sajjan, who represents the riding of Vancouver-South, was in town for his government’s first ministers’ meeting. The politician decided to stop by the eatery to try out his namesake burger.

He later tweeted, “National Deliciousness indeed! Tried my namesake burger at Vancouver’s The Cannibal Cafe and was not disappointed.”

The master chef behind the burger, Zai Kitagawa, said that he started thinking of the burger right after Sajjan’s appointment. “If there’s a man that a Canadian can be proud of, it’s definitely Mr Sajjan,” he said.

The ‘Minister of National Deliciousness’ burger features a tandoori-spiced chicken patty smothered in butter chicken sauce, jalapeno and pressed yogurt with mint, cilantro, lettuce, tomato and cucumbers. Kitagawa even included onion pakodas to give the burger a Punjabi flavour.

The 45-year-old Sajjan was named Canada’s defence minister in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 30-member Liberal cabinet in November last year.

Before politics, Sajjan was a detective investigating gangs for the Vancouver Police Department and a regimental commander in the Canadian Armed Forces decorated for his service in Afghanistan. Sajjan was also the first Sikh-Canadian to command a Canadian army reserve regiment.

Sajjan was born in Bombeli, a village in the Hoshiarpur district of Punjab, India. He along with his mother and older sister immigrated to Canada in 1976 when he was five years old to rejoin their father who had left for British Columbia two years prior to work in a sawmill.

While his family was getting established in their new life in Canada, his mother worked on berry farms in BC’s Lower Mainland during the summer, and Sajjan and his sister would frequently join her. Sajjan grew up in a neighbourhood in South Vancouver. Sajjan’s father Kundan Sajjan was a police officer in India, and is a member of the World Sikh Organization (WSO), a Sikh advocacy group.

He married Kuljit Kaur Sajjan, a family doctor, in 1996, and has a son and a daughter with her.

Pics courtesy: Twitter

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