Jasvinder Singh Khatra immigrated to Canada from the Punjab in 1991, sponsored by his wife, Baljinder. He and his wife have two boys (Omeet and Karanmeet) who are both currently attending the University of British Columbia.
Jas explained that even with a masters degree it would have been difficult to find work in India so he was pleased to be able to move to Canada. Jas was well on his way to obtaining this degree, when he immigrated.
He has worked for Canada Post for 28 years, delivering parcels to homes and businesses. He enjoys his job as he meets people all day long and has always found the people of Vernon to be very friendly and welcoming.
Jas has contributed to our community on many levels. He is one of the founding members and currently the president of the Vernon Punjabi Heritage Society, leading a team of 13 directors. He teaches the Punjabi language and folk dances to young boys and girls, as he enjoys being able to pass on Punjabi culture to children who were born in Canada.
Jas is a believer in multiculturalism and has coached soccer to many children belonging to different cultural backgrounds with the goal that they would move on to other formal leagues in Vernon when they were ready.
Every year, he and others organize the annual Vernon Punjabi Heritage Society dinner, dance and entertainment event.
“I perform in Bhangra Dance and several musical plays,” he said. “I also teach Bhangra and my wife helps organize Giddha Dance. Bhangra is performed by both male and female dancers, but Giddha is only done by females.”
He said the Vernon Punjabi Heritage Society was also involved with the Vernon Winter Carnival and won first prize for the visual and performing arts area for three years.
Jas explains that being charitable is a large part of his Sikh faith, so he tries to give back to the community whenever he can.
He has helped organize several samosa sale fundraisers at Superstore, benefiting tsunami relief efforts in Japan, the food bank and Vernon Jubilee Hospital.
He shares that anyone can be Sikh by following the principle beliefs. It is his dream to have more integration with the community.
“All are welcome at the Sikh Temple,” Jas said.
“My soul is happy when I can combine helping others and taking part in theatre, dancing and singing.”
Vernon is fortunate to have such a kind and giving person in our community.
The monthly Community Champion feature is submitted by Respect Works Here, which is an initiative of the Social Planning Council of the North Okanagan. They are also the host agency for the Local Immigration Partnership Council and the Thompson Okanagan Respect Network.