TORONTO: Known Indo-Canadian community activist Balwant Sanghera from British Columbia was given the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal by MP Alice Wong at an elaborate ceremony in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond at the weekend.
Sanghera is also the recipient of the provincial Order of British Columbia (2004) and the Golden Jubilee Award for his community activism (2002).
He was also voted as one of the Top-25 Canadian Immigrants in 2010 and honoured by the Solicitor General of British Columbia with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Crime Prevention and Community Safety in 2011.
Punjab-born Sanghera, who moved to Canada in 1966 after his graduation, has been a known face in the South Asian community for years for his social service.
“There are three things dear to my heart – promoting intercultural harmony, helping the youth stay out of gang and youth violence and promoting the Punjabi language. The Diamond Jubilee Medal is for my service to the community and Canada,’’ he says.
A relentless crusader, he brought together the dominant Sikh community of the greater Vancouver area to form the Sikh Societies of the Lower Mainland, and he has been leading it since then as its chairperson even as the group was expanded and renamed South Asian Community Coalition Against Youth Violence in 2007.
Sanghera also played an important role in the British Columbian government’s decision to set up the BC Gang Task Force in 2004 to tackle growing youth gang violence in the South Asian community.
As well, he is the president of the Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA) of British Columbia. In fact, he was instrument in the creation of PLEA which has been championing the cause of the Punjabi language for a decade now.
Sanghera, who started his teaching career in 1973 after obtaining his Master of Education degree from the UBC, retired in 2004.