31 Oct Ram Singh Sidhu
Ram Singh Sidhu was born in the village Chedpur Khurad, district Ludhiana located in Punjab, India. He came to Canada at the age of 38 on 19 April 1972. He came alone on a visitor’s visa and stayed at his aunt’s house in Mission, British Columbia for one year.
Ram Singh had applied for his permanent resident ship (PR) from Canada. As per Canadian law he could not work for a year but later he started working at a farm and in 1976 he started working at various saw mills located in Squamish, Burnaby, Nanaimo, and near the Fraser valley.
In 1975 he was paid $4.20 per hour which gradually reached to $23 per hour in 2003 soon before his retirement. When his family arrived he worked in Mission and they all stayed there for five years until they moved to Burnaby, and then finally settled in Abbotsford. Ram Singh Sidhu bought a house in Abbotsford for $35,000 in 1977 when he sponsored his whole family.
Ram Singh Sidhu realized that the Canadian environment was different then he had thought it would be. In the 1970’s, much of the work was done with machines and mostly people travelled in their cars. Whenever he had to go do his shopping or go to the Gurudwara he had to share rides with his friends. In addition, because of the limited availability of appliances such as refrigerators and freezers, they had to plan their grocery and daily needs accordingly and store the milk cans in water. There were few Indian grocery stores in the 70’s and so often they had to go from Abbotsford to Hastings Street in Vancouver in order to buy Indian food (daal, atta, etc.) that was only available at a store called Atariyan (a national food store).
Ram Singh also faced instances of racism where he was called derogatory names by the Caucasians and was told to go back to India, etc. But he is also quick to note that racism has also decreased plenty since the 1980’s.
Overall Ram Singh Sidhu thinks that Canada has offered him and his family a great deal of opportunities and he feels that his children’s future is safe and bright here.