My Journey to Canada: Part 5.........by Balwant Sanghera
Small towns of British Columbia have their own charms. Certainly, for shopping or health related services etc. one has to travel to much larger communities. For example, when my family and I were in Hudson’s Hope, we had to travel to either Fort Saint John or Dawson Creek for shopping or other reasons. Similarly, when we were in Lillooet, we had to travel to Kamloops or Vancouver for family functions, shopping or other things. This is the main drawback of living in small towns. However, on the positive side, these small communities offer simple living, minimum crime, minimal driving, wonderful environment and astrong sense of belonging to the community. Usually, in small communities most of the people know each other fairly well. As such, these small communities are ideal for raising a family. Everyone feels like an integral part of the entire community.
The other difference I noticed while living in small communities is that people appreciate more the contribution of any of its members for the betterment of the community. In this regard I can relate my own experience. Since everyone is on a first name basis, the people will stop you on the street and speak their mind.It may not be to ones liking at times. However, for most of the time, it is usually positive. For example, in Lillooet, when I decided to put forward my name for the position of Alderman (Councillor) I was warmly encouraged and supported. As a result of my commitment and contribution to the community, I was elected six times, usually topping the polls, till I decided to move to Richmond in 1990. Usually, folks in small towns are more friendly, more resilient, more open and welcoming.
These traits were on display when Lillooet was asked to host thirty young exchange students. Fifteen of these students were from different provinces of India and fifteen were from all over Canada. The entire town felt honoured to host these guests and went out of its way to welcome them. As part of that, membersof thePunjabi community also did everything to make these young students’ stay very enjoyable. They invitedthese young boys and girls totheir homes. These students stayed with us for about one month and took away very pleasant memories of our hospitality.
The thirty or so Punjabi families in Lillooet would get to-gether at our house on special occasions like Diwali, Lohri, and Christmas etc. for celebration. On Lillooet Days, a special community celebration, we would all work to-gether to celebrate this special day. The ladies would make samosas gulab jamans and other sweets and delicacies. Men folks would set up a temporary plywood structure called Punjabi Dhaba and hand out plates of these delicacies to the attendees. It used to be a lot of fun. At the end of the day, all of the Punjabi families-men,women and children –would meet at our place and have a party. Celebrations like these made life enjoyable for everyone.
While living and working in Lillooet, I upgraded my educational credentials through summer schools etc. at University of British Columbia and received my Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree in 1983. I specialized in educational psychology and earned my credentials as a school psychologist. In this context, it was quite an experience for me to travel to Kamloops for 30 Saturdays to attend UBC’s outreach classes in order to complete my pre requisites for admission to the Master’s Program. This was one of my cherished professional goals.
My older son Barinder graduated from Lillooet Secondary School in June, 1990 and was admitted to University of British Columbia (UBC). As such,my family and I realized it was time to move to the big city. I was offered and accepted a position as School Psychologist by Burnaby School District and we moved to Richmond in early July,1990. It has been our home since then.
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