PLEA’s 15th Annual Mother Language Day
Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA) held its 15th annual Mother Language Day celebration on January 20th at the North Delta Recreation Centre. The program consisted of important discussions about the implementation of Punjabi language teaching in more public schools in Surrey. Along with various speakers who discussed the important issues, a large number of students participated with their poems, songs and speeches. The program was mc’d by Parabjot Singh. PLEA President Balwant Sanghera welcomed the attendees and stated that this year’s main focus is to encourage the parents to enroll their children in grade 5 Punjabi classes. He said that there are several elementary schools in Surrey where it is possible to have Punjabi classes due to the large number of Punjabi students in those schools. This year’s keynote speaker Jag Khosa, a police officer and a prominent community activist spoke about the importance of teaching children Punjabi. He emphasized how crucial it is to speak Punjabi with children at home from a young age. In detail, Khosa highlighted just how much of an asset Punjabi is to him in his professional life. He also stated that along with teaching children Punjabi, parents should take the opportunity to learn English and have libraries in their homes. Prominent Punjabi scholar Dr. Sadhu Singh stated that sectarianism has caused the most harm to the Punjabi language. While speaking about the richness of the Punjabi language he enthralled the audience by reading a passage about colours from his book called “Punjabi Boli Di Virast (The Heritage of the Punjabi Language).” UBC Punjabi Instructor Sukhwant Hundal spoke in detail about significance of Punjabi Wikipedia. He requested that the Punjabi community should contribute to the site, as there is a need for content. Hundal also spoke about a piece he has written about the site that can be accessed here: https://sukhwanthundal.wordpress.com/ Surrey School Trustee Gary Thind, Surrey School Teacher Rabinder Boparai and a parent representative Kewal Tagger participated in panel moderated by Sukhwant Hundal. The main points highlighted in this discussion were how to encourage parents to enroll their children in Punjabi classes. Along with speaking about the concerns surrounding the implementation of Punjabi in the public school system, the program also featured students reading Punjabi poems, songs and speeches about issues pertaining to the Punjabi language and community. The student participants were: Aman, Tanu, Manu, Sukhman Kaimbo, Manjot Singh, Prabhleen Kaur Grewal, Sharan Sandhu, Humkirat Gill, Taran Poonia, Sunny, Simrat, Amrit, Jasnoor, Sahib, Ravleen, Smriti, Ashmeen, Parleen, Navreet, and Hardeep Virk. PLEA honoured Gian Singh Thind and Harjinder Sangra for their contribution to the progression of the Punjabi language in Canada. While speaking about Gian Singh Thind, radio host Professor Gurvinder Singh Dhaliwal said that Thind arrived in Canada in 1953 and learned Punjabi. He then started a newspaper for the historical Khalsa Diwan Society Vancouver. While speaking about Harjinder Sangra, Sadhu Binning stated that Canadian born Sangra learned Punjabi and participated in plays produced by Vancouver Sath. She taught Punjabi at UBC’s continuing studies for a number of years and has been teaching Punjabi along with other subjects in Vancouver for many years. The program concluded with Balwant Sanghera thanking the audience, Punjabi media, the students and the Surrey School Board. He also thanked PLEA members Parvinder Dhariwal, Parabjot Singh, Rajinder Pandher, Harman Pandher, Ranbir Johal, Jas Binning, Paul Binning and Sadhu Binning. Sanghera made a final appeal to parents to enroll their children in Punjabi language classes and to encourage others to do the same.