Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA) had a very successful
International Mother Language Day celebration on Sunday, February
25 at Ravi Banquet Hall in Surrey. It was a very well attended
One of PLEA’s Board members, Aman Taggar opened the function
with an impressive slide presentation about the sad state of Punjabi
in Punjab. The province, which is supposed to be the leading promoter
of Punjabi, seems to pay very little attention to this issue.
As PLEA president, I had the privilege of giving a brief overview
of the successes and challenges facing PLEA here in BC. It is
a matter of great pride for our community that due to our joint
efforts, Punjabi language classes are being offered in various
elementary and secondary schools as well as colleges and universities
in British Columbia.
PLEA vice president Sadhu Binning made an impassioned plea to
the community in general and the Indo-Canadian politicians in
particular to start the process for getting our mother language
Punjabi the landed immigrant status in Canada. He stressed that
it is very unfortunate that despite our community’s contribution
for more than one hundred ten years in this country, our language
is still considered as a foreign language.
The person who was one of the leading figures in getting
Punjabi the official status as a second language in BC’s
public schools, Moe Sihota, kept the audience spellbound
by describing his personal experiences in this regard. The former
cabinet minister and one of the most popular members of our community,
urged the community to fully get involved in promoting Punjabi.
As a token of its appreciation, representatives of PLEA presented
Mr. Sihota with a plaque honoring his contribution to the Punjabi
Other speakers included Mr. Ashok Kumar, Consul General of India.
Who emphasized that our mother language Punjabi is a very rich
language and we should all take pride in it. Deputy Consul General
Zile Singh stressed that a person may learn various languages
but he/she always dreams in his/her mother language. Mr. Zile
Singh also emphasized the importance of learning / promoting ones
mother language. Recent immigrant from India and an educator,Harminder
Sharma, expressed his concerns and stated that one needs to find
the root cause as to why a lot of students in Punjab’s colleges
and universities prefer to take languages other than Punjabi.
Canadian born and raised Punjabi teacher and an active member
of PLEA,Ranbir Kaur Johal, expressed her disappointment about
some of the criticism leveled against people who can’t speak
Punjabi very well. She suggested that any constructive criticism
However, we must keep in mind that we don’t discourage people
too much. Well- known writer/poet Mr. Harchand Singh Bagri and
very talented Bhatia sisters-Gurleen and Sukhleen entertained
the audience with beautiful poetry and songs.
The second part of the program consisted of a panel discussion
chaired by another PLEA member and educator, Sukhwant Hundal.
The panel members were very well known local Punjabi media personalities.
They were: Mr.Harjinder Singh Thind (RadioRed FM), Mr. Dilbar
Kang (Channel M), Mr.Gurbinder Singh Dhaliwal (Radio Sher e Punjab),
Mr. Gurpreet Singh (Radio India) and Ms.Rupinder Kaur Hayer-Bains
(Indo-Canadian Times). All of them presented excellent suggestions
for promoting Punjabi in BC and elsewhere. PLEA is very thankful
to them and every other Indo-Canadian media outlet for their on-going
Also, we are very thankful to the management and staff of Ravi
Banquet Hall for their assistance in making this function possible.
On behalf of PLEA, I would also like to thank Paul and Jas Binning
and the Deepak binning Foundation for their financial as well
as physical support all the time.
Finally, PLEA is very thankful to so many of its volunteers and
the community for their on-going support and encouragement.
President, Punjabi Language Education Association