DR. JAGMOHAN SANGHA
Canada is a home to over half million strong Punjabi diaspora. Punjabi is spoken primarily by people who originated from east and west Punjab. Their fine blending of Punjabi sensibilities and Canadian ethos have kept them ahead of many others in socio-cultural and literary activities. Though Sikhs form the largest percentage, the other religions who speak Punjabi comprise Muslims, Hindus, Jains, Christians etc. Punjabi remains the most commonly spoken immigrant non-official language spoken in the country. This Indo-Aryan language enjoys the distinction of being the 10th most widely spoken language in the world. It is spoken by over 100 Million people worldwide. In fact, this language has brought Indians and Pakistani communities together and lot of collective and parallel literary endeavours are being carried out in Canada in Gurmukhi and Shahmukhi. Punjabi is one of the very few languages, which is written in more than one script.
Punjabis have been migrating to Canada for over a century now but the bigger influx was noticed in 1970s. Immigrants arrive in Canada under a well-defined system whose entry criteria are time and qualifying points dependent. While some of the Punjabis came from India and Pakistan in search of better life, many others flee their countries to avoid persecution. They applied as refugees and settled in Canada. Lot of these were the young men and women who were part of radical moments in their countries. The Khalistan moment and 1984 atrocities on Sikhs also compelled many to decide to leave the country and settle in Canada. Taking advantage of Canadian humanitarian and compassionate considerations, some of the Punjabis from India and Pakistan supposedly took advantage of the situation and sought refuge even though they had no valid grounds regarding fear of persecution in their home countries. Many Punjabis followed the spousal sponsorship and other family sponsorship routes. During last decade a considerable number of students have also entered Canada and majority of them obtained permanent resident status eventually. Many parents also joined their children as permanent residents till super visa was introduced and permanent residency was discouraged. In fact besides love and compassionate considerations, parents are welcomed for other reasons too. Parents often are very helpful in looking after the grandchildren, look after the house hold chores and some contribute a share of their pension too.