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Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA) held a very successful Punjabi Jashan on Saturday, at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) in Surrey

Los Angeles, Oct 31, 2023 Sanghera
Ramesh/ A.Gary Singh

It was a well-attended event. For this PLEA is very thankful to the Punjabi Press Club as well as South Asian electronic and print media. Our young MCs- Gurinder Mann and Harman Pandher did an excellent job in running the Jashan smoothly. PLEA is also very thankful to KPU and Steve Lewarne for sponsoring the event and providing not only the facility but also all of related support, free parking and delicious refreshments. Also, PLEA is very thankful to the Deepak Binning Foundation and its founders Paul and Jas Binning for their on-going support.

                              The Jashan began with land acknowledgement and welcome to KPU by Steve Lewarne, Director , Community Services Executive Director of Advancement and Alumni Affairs   (KPU) and Paul Binning founder of the Deepak Binning Foundation. Both of them gave brief information about their respective organizations and involvement with PLEA. PLEA President Balwant Sanghera and Vice President Sadhu Binning both gave a brief outline of PLEA’s activities, accomplishments and challenges. Both of them thanked the community for its on-going support and assistance in meeting some of the challenges. One of the major challenges at present is lack of students in elementary schools in places like Surrey and Delta which have become major hubs of the Punjabi community. Consequently, this was the major topic for the panel .
Sadhu Binning again raised the issue that the federal government should revisit its language policy and make the necessary changes to give recognition to other languages as Canadian languages. The demographics of Canada have changed drastically and the policy should reflect the new reality. .Also, we need some major changes in the provincial language policy . In order to request changes , members of PLEA’s Board of Directors had a very productive meeting with our province’s Minister of Education, Ms. Rachna Singh. She had also kindly agreed to join us at the Jashan and share her thoughts with the audience.

                              In her speech, Rachna Singh assured PLEA and the audience that she will be working hard on our behalf in addressing the concerns brought to her attention by PLEA and look favourably at PLEA;s suggestions. On behalf of PLEA I would like to thank Ms. Singh for taking the time to join us at the Jashan . We look forward to working with her and her ministry in making things better especially for learners of second languages ,including Punjabi in this province.

                              A very lively panel discussion took place following Ms. Rachna Singh’s presentation. Panel co-ordinator, Gurpreet Kaur Bains, a prominent teacher and head of Language Department  at L. A. Matheson Secondary School in Surrey, did an excellent job in putting very relevant questions to each of the panel members. The panel consisted of long time Surrey School Trustee Garry Thind, Delta School Trustee Nimmy Daula, Surrey School District Principal Raj Puri, Princess Margaret Secondary School head of language department, Amandeep Chhina, Kiran Toor of Kids Play, University student Tejal Kaur Badesha and L.A. Matheson Grade 11 student Komalpreet Kaur Kooner. The panel members came up with excellent suggestions to improve the enrollment of students in Punjabi classes especially at the elementary schools in Surrey and Delta.   Students from Beaver Creek Elementary School as well as L.A. Matheson and Princess Margaret Secondary School did an excellent job in presenting their poems, essays and songs etc.. The audience thoroughly enjoyed their presentations. PLEA is very thankful to all of them.

               As you know, United Nations Educational and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have recognized 7,000 languages spoken around the globe. It is a great honour for the Punjabi community that Punjabi came out as the tenth most spoken language in the world. It is spoken by more than 150 million people settled in more than 190 countries. In Canada, Punjabi is the third most spoken language with more than 1.5 million speakers. In cities like Surrey, Abbotsford, Brampton, Mississauga. Edmonton and Calgary it is reported to be the second most spoken language behind English. B.C. is far ahead of other provinces in promoting Punjabi. PLEA is very proud to promote Punjabi . However, it needs your support in creating more pride in our mother tongue. Punjabi Jahsan like this goes a long way in achieving that.

Balwant Sanghera
President, Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA)