When Baljit Sethi left India for a better life in Canada in 1972, the term ‘multiculturalism’ wasn’t mainstream.
Finding her feet in a foreign land wasn’t easy. Not only faced with a language barrier, but also cultural limitations, Baljit decided to help other immigrants, and find herself in the process.
Baljit understood that newcomers could not become part of their new communities without multicultural programs and the active promotion of racial harmony.
She founded the Immigrant and Multicultural Services Society of Prince George, which provides settlement services to communities in Northern British Columbia. She worked to encourage interaction between immigrants and the population of Prince George, the benefit of which was felt across northern British Columbia.
Her tireless work over 40 years had given Canada the programs that continue to be used across the country to promote multiculturalism and equality.
A strong advocate for immigrant women, her contributions have been recognized with the Order of British Columbia award.
Canadians get an opportunity to understand and celebrate the contributions of Canadians of Asian heritage.
The concept is not new to North America. Asian Heritage Month has been celebrated in the United States since 1979.
In the last few years, Asians in Canada have started to celebrate their culture in May every year.
It was in 2001 that Canada officially adopted the motion proposed by Senator Vivienne Poy to designate May as Asian Heritage Month.