During her trade mission to India, BC Premier Christy Clark made a short stop at Dhahan-Kaleran on November 16th. Accompanying the Premier were Sarup S. Mann, Barj S. Dhahan, Ajit S. Thandi along with a host of other trade mission delegates from British Columbia. The Premier was greeted by an enthusiastic group of nursing students and staff of Guru Nanak Mission Medical & Educational Trust.
Later that evening at the reception hosted by the Canadian Consul General Scot Slessor at his residence in Chandigarh, Premier Clark in her speech commended Mr. Budh Singh Dhahan, his family and friends for their pioneering efforts in launching meaningful relationships between British Columbia and Punjab to provide education for girls and boys, and health care and nursing programs for people in rural areas of Punjab.
Full Text of Christy Clark’s Speech:
I am very excited to be in India, with the largest delegation of business leaders ever to participate in a BC trade mission. British Columbia has deep historical, cultural and business ties to India and the state of Punjab in particular.
In BC, we have a large Punjabi community, so I know how important the entrepreneurial spirit is in Chandigarh. There isn’t a sector in our province that hasn’t been affected by this spirit – many people of Indian ancestry started in BC as labourers and worked their way up to be owners of successful businesses. And British Columbians been inspired by how each generation in Indian families play a crucial role – how they keep grandparents close to home to be caregivers and teachers for future generations. Education, family hard and giving back to the community – these are values that we share with people in the state of Punjab. Values that cross an ocean.
When I think about these things, two gentlemen come to mind – Dr. Gurdev Singh Gill and Mr. Budh Singh Dhahan.
Both are from India, immigrated to British Columbia, and now are back in India helping with projects that will improve the lives of many.
Dr. Gurdev Singh Gill is the first immigrant from India to graduate in medicine from the University of British Columbia. As a former president of the Khalsa Diwan Society, he helped with the early human rights struggles that faced the Indo-Canadian community. In recent years, he has devoted his energy and finances to charity, starting the Indo-Canadian Friendship Society of B.C. and championing projects to provide rural Indian villages with sanitary living conditions, clean drinking water, public health and rural infrastructure upgrades.
Mr. Budh Singh Dhahan came to Canada in 1959 and settled in a small town called Port Alberni, British Columbia. He started in forestry and grew his business in construction, all while remaining active in local community causes. At one time, he served as the general secretary of Khalsa Diwan Society – Vancouver. Under his leadership, the society launched new initiatives such as English classes for new immigrants and programs to help strengthen the relationships between the Indo-Canadian community with the larger community.
Education for girls and gender equality issues remained close to Mr. Dhahan’s heart and he continued to dream of returning to his homeland to help the poor and less educated. In 1984 Mr. Dhahan’s dream came true. With the help of family and friends in Vancouver and in India, he opened a 40 bed hospital in the Nawanshahar District region of Punjab. Since then an elementary and secondary school was started.
The Guru Nanak College of Nursing was opened in 1993 with a diploma program in nursing and…in 1998 a baccalaureate degree program in nursing began with an intake of 50 students. A collaboration with the University of British Columbia (UBC) School of Nursing involving faculty and student exchange and development of nursing curriculum began shortly afterwards.
The values of both Mr. Dhahan and Dr. Gill have enriched the lives of people on both sides of the Pacific ocean.
To all the families that were brave enough to send their children to another country I’d like to say thank you. And I also want to say thank you for helping build British Columbia… “Thu-hada Bo-th Bo-th Shuck-ria” (Punjabi phrase: Thank you very much)
Our two countries have a lasting cultural bond. We share a language, and a democratic system. We are two countries with deep ties of friendship.
The growth in India is absolutely breathtaking. It’s something that humanity has never seen….The emergence of an unmatched middle class that will one day soon populate India. Humanity has never seen a population under the age of 25 as big as this.
Indians like the Dr. Gill and Mr. Dhahan came to BC to help us build our province. Now we are returning to help India build for the future. We set out on this Jobs and Trade Mission to build on our existing relationships and to make new ones. We have so much to offer this country. While other countries around the world face economic turmoil – BC a stable environment, a safe haven for investment. We have an excellent credit rating, we have low taxes, and we have sound fiscal management in our province.
We are strong in areas that are much-sought after in India:
- Renewable and clean energy technologist
- Life sciences
We have a great link with the Punjab state and we are serious about increasing our economic ties. That is why we are not only maintaining our trade presence but we are enhancing it right here in Chandigarh.
On Saturday I announced that we are working with Government of Canada and will co-locate new BC trade offices in Mumbai and Chandigarh. These will be up and running in the spring. It’s part of our commitment to open doors and strengthen our relationships with the people of this region.
I also am pleased to announce that BC will be supporting the Canada India Foundation to host the Canada India Agriculture and Food Processing Forum the fall of 2012. This event bring together industry and government leaders for discussions. I have personally extended invitations to Chief Ministers from the Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh to bring delegations and attend the forum.
BC is one of Canada’s top sources of natural resources. This reputation is well deserved, but it risks selling our province short. We are useful in more ways than one. For a start, BC’s resource firms are not just exporters of raw materials; they are exporters of expertise and technologies that can be shared with their internationally active Indian counterparts. BC is also Canada’s Asia-Pacific Gateway — its cities, companies and institutions are conduits to North America and the world. It is an ideal location for the head offices of Indian companies. And BC’s world-class institutions of higher education attract Indian students; but they also offer models and partners for new institutions in India.
Right now, we have an incredible opportunity to do great things together – back home, I’ve been calling it a generational opportunity. While other economies are facing turbulent times ahead, BC and India are in a position to help each other grow. One thing I always say about Canadians is that we just keep on coming back. Like Mr. Dhahan and Dr. Gill, I know this is going to take hard work, determination, and guts. But our shared values means we can be a great partner for India, and that partnership will allow us to prosper together.
This is our time. This is our moment. This is our chance to do great things together. Let’s work together to make both of our places in the world a better place for our families. When it comes to building the future, Canada starts in BC and Chandigarh.