Kishan Singh Parmar was not a very young man when he brought his family to Canada to live, but has never regretted his decision.
Now president of the Gurdwara Western Singh Sabha Temple in Williams Lake, Kishan and his wife Baldev immigrated to Canada 45 years ago with their three children, the eldest who was then 15.
They left their family farm in Phuglana, Punjab in the care of relatives to start a new life in Canada. In addition to helping out on the family farm Parmar served in the army and worked at the post office in Delhi, India.
They stayed a month in Nanaimo with relative, then moved on to Williams Lake where they also had relatives and Kishan found work at Lignum. He worked on the green chain for a year, then became a lumber grader. He worked at then Lignum for four years and another 22 years at the P&T Mill before retiring.
Over the years Kishan and Baldev and sometimes their children have made trips home to India every five or six years to visit family.
Kishan has been retired for 20 years now and about five years ago sold the family farm in India to a nephew, but kept a house on the property where they stay during visits.
“It wasn’t very big but we grew everything,” Kishan says. Wheat, corn, peas, a variety of vegetables and fruit.
He decided to become a baptized Sikh in 1979, which meant following a vegetarian diet, and not drinking alcohol.
“I like the lifestyle,” Kishan says.
He notes that India has at least 14 official languages and that he and Baldev can speak and write the most common of the languages Punjabi, Hindi, and Ordu.
Their daughter Charanjit married former city councillor Surinderpal Rathor and lives nearby in Williams Lake.
Their daughter Parmjit married to Harbhjan Parhar and lives in Kelowna.
Their son Surinder Parmar lives in Williams Lake with his wife Sukhpreet and works at Tolko’s Lakeside mill.
The couple now enjoys seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Unfortunately, the Parmars are also grieving the recent loss of their granddaughter Roop Parmar, who died in January 2014, almost a year into her recovery from a heart transplant.
As temple president Kishan organizes meetings, collects donations and general keeps tabs on temple activities. After a stroke in 2004, Kishan says his balance isn’t what it was but he still enjoys a bit of gardening and visiting with family and friends.
Baldev is also experiencing her own health problems these days but despite their problems they have no regrets about their decision to make Canada their home.
“We were happy to come to Canada,” Kishan says.