Becoming Canadian: Pioneer Sikhs In Their Own Words


Section 4

The girls began their schooling at Mayo where their father and his partner Mayo Singh had their mill. In 1935 they moved to 2416 York Street, Vancouver, to a home that their father had built for their mother when she first came to Canada in 1923. It was near the 2nd Avenue gurdwara and the children attended Henry Hudson School. " It was a new world for us, " Dr. Siddoo recalls. " I was in grade four and my sister was in grade five. It was a big school, the most I had in my class before [in Mayo] was seven students, here we had between thirty and forty students. We were always at the upper end of the class, never the lower end. We had lots of friends. There were some East Indian kids there, not that many. Bunt Gurdass and I were in the same class. I think he was pretty naughty. He’s the only one, there were lots of Japanese kids, I don’t remember any Chinese. That only went up to grade six, so junior high and senior high school was at Kitsilano High School. "

Both girls went on to UBC for their pre-med courses and then to the University of Toronto for medical school. They became doctors and went to India and set up hospitals in their family’s village as their parents had planned. From the time their daughters were born, the Kapoors supported and encouraged them to do well. " In those days, " Sarjit says, " our people had a saying: ‘To be educated is like drowning.’ It gets you nowhere. What good is education when you’ll end up pulling lumber in a mill? But my father and mother never looked at it that way. And Father always said, ‘It doesn’t matter if you are boys or girls, you have equal rights, and don’t ever feel that you can’t do this or that.’ He was
Hundal brothers
Hundal brothers
very much in favour of people having equal rights; not one dominating the other but having equal rights. He was way ahead of his time. He really was a visionary. "

The Kapoor girls, the Hundal boys, Ranjit Hall and Dedar Sihota had a dream and realized it by pursuing their education at great personal sacrifice. For all of them, motivation was a key factor in their education, whether it was self-motivation or encouragement from their teachers, elders or parents. The histories of these particular young Sikhs teach a valuable lesson: that individuals are capable of overcoming great obstacles by perseverance and dedication to their goals.

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