Community champion celebrates diversity

Community champion celebrates diversity

“We don’t leave anyone behind. We believe in equality and service and we are friendly and welcoming.”

Sponsored by his sister’s husband to come to Canada, Paramjit Singh Janda was encouraged to cut his hair and remove his turban in order to fit in when he first moved to Canada.

As a devout Sikh, he found this very difficult. However, his desire to come to Canada – a safe place, where there is order and people follow the laws – overcame his reservations and he complied.

Sacrificing strong believes and cultural heritage, in return for safety and inclusion, is a common struggle for immigrants.

The turban represents the sense of duty Sikhs have to be defenders and their willingness to always be seen. It’s a tradition determined by one of the ten Gurus of Sikhism, to have Sikh men stand out in a crowd as a beacon to those in need. Additionally, orthodox Sikhs are asked to wear the five Ks as articles of faith: Kesh (uncut hair), Kara (a steel bracelet), Kanga (a wooden comb), Kachera (boxer shorts with drawstrings) and Kirpan (a steel sword).

A few years after being in Canada, Paramjit realized that these early fears of ostracism and exclusion were unfounded and he is proudly wearing a turban again. Finding a safe home where he could raise his family and still reflect and practice important tenets of his faith, is part of what makes Paramajit such a fiercely proud Canadian today.

His strength and contentment shines through as he explains that he is so proud to have his own business and that he has had opportunities that have allowed him to get ahead.

A farmer in Punjab, India, Paramjit came to Vernon in 1994 and worked as a farm labourer for ten years. Now he is very busy running his own business by leasing over 55 acres of orchard that he tends in Vernon, Oyama and Kelowna. Paramjit is happy his kids have opportunities in their home country, with his son hoping to become an RCMP member and his daughter desiring to be a nurse.

Paramjit is recognized as a Community Champion for his generosity and leadership for other immigrants and the community at large.

Related: Vernon Community Champion: Respect works here

Related: Community champion loves giving back

An active member of the North Okanagan Sikh Cultural Society, Paramjit was on the executive for seven years — five of which were as president — and was also part of the Vernon Punjab Heritage Society.

For many years, his wife, Rajwinder, has been in charge of overseeing the preparation for the communal meal called Langar after service at the Gurdwara, Sikh temple, on Sundays. The tradition of Langar represents the core belief that all humans are equal. Everyone – man, woman, rich or poor, Sikh or visitors to the temple – eat together in a common room, symbolizing the oneness of humankind.

The Sikh tradition of seva or selfless service underlines Paramjit’s determination to support both the Sikh community and the community at large. When newcomers arrive, they get support to find jobs, to connect with people and services in the community and even financial aid when needed.

The Jandas’ seva goes beyond the Sikh community and when a friend was organizing a volleyball meet, Paramjit and Rajwinder opened their home to a 25-member team of girls that were not able to find accommodation elsewhere.

“When I first came here, it was very hard to start. But now it’s good,” he said, noting his happiness that he is able to give back.

“That is my religion. We are the protectors, we don’t leave anyone behind. We believe in equality and service and we are friendly and welcoming.”

And now, he proudly wears his turban as symbol of all of these qualities.

Related: Humble roots keep Community Champion grounded

Related: Community champions lauded for work with Syrian refugees in Vernon

To report a typo, email:


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kalamalka Secondary School staff and students have been warned to self isolate if showing COVID-19 symptoms after possible exposure on March 13, 2020. (Google Maps)
First case of COVID-19 in Coldstream school

Three more schools confirm positive cases

The City of Vernon’s Recreation Services is bringing back indoor walking at Kal Tire Place, with public skating also in the works over the Christmas holidays. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Vernon rec hard hit in pandemic

Cancellations and closures see expected drops in fourth-quarter report

The Abbotsford Tulip Festival is permanently closing, with plans to eventually set up in Armstrong, B.C. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Abbotsford Tulip Festival is closing, with plans to rebloom in Armstrong

Event organizer says pandemic and sale of land were factors in decision

(THE NEWS – files)
Snowy days ahead for the Okanagan and Shuswap

The region could get up to 5 cm by Thursday

Three cars had their tires slashed in Vernon over the weekend. (Contributed)
Tires slashed at three Vernon residences

RCMP investigating Okanagan Landing-area incidents

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

(Michael Rodriguez - Capital News staff)
Downtown stairwell fire suspicious, Kelowna RCMP say

Crews were called to Gotham Nightclub for a report of a stairwell fire

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Second doses delayed as B.C. vaccine delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

Head Brewer Kody Rosentreter, owner Wes Greve and taproom manager Lisa Deleo celebrated North Basin Brewing’s grand opening Jan. 22 and 23, 2020. (Contributed)
Osoyoos’ first microbrewery celebrates grand opening

The brewery hopes to show that the Okanagan is more than just wine country

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran addresses media from the front steps of council chambers on March 23. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna, West Kelowna still looking to opt-out of speculation tax

Mayors say spec tax has missed the mark, revenue largely coming out of Canadians’ pockets

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Most Read