Recession Hits Sikh-Canadians

Recession Hits Sikh-Canadians

There’s a profile in today’s Toronto Star (and a video online) of the classical Punjabi Sikh family in Canada. Dad came to Canada as young man and goes back to get married. Mom and Dad both have college degrees from India but have limited ability to speak English in a business setting. Living with Dad’s parents, the economic pressures quickly put them into the workforce where they are able to land blue collar jobs at a local car parts factory. There they work with other immigrants, mostly Punjabi with whom they feel comfortable. Business is doing well, they’re able to get good jobs on the factory floor, buy a good house and provide for their children.

Then the economy falls apart. Auto sales plummet and parts suppliers can’t stay afloat. They shut plants and layoff workers. All of a sudden Mom and Dad find themselves out of a job with limited transferable skills.

That’s the story of Adarash Pal Singh and Paramjeet Kaur Saini. Both were laid off from Progressive Moulded Products last June and haven’t been able to find employment. To re-skill, both are pursuing further education and Paramjeet just got accepted into Second Career program.

Every evening between 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. the Saini home is filled with Punjabi music. Adarash Pal’s parents watch a Sikh religious ceremony on television faithfully, his mother curled up in the corner of the couch, singing quietly along with the worshippers in India.

“When we were working also we prayed, it’s not just for jobs,” Paramjeet says. “When you are in difficulty you know nobody going to hold your hand, only God will.”

She serves dal and cauliflower for dinner, flattening the roti with a rolling pin, cooking it over the stove.

Paramjeet knows her former co-workers are also struggling. Some have already sold their homes and moved into condos or rented apartments. “Before we sell, we see for a while if we find good jobs,” she says.

She also knows people talk about moving back home to India. It is not something the Sainis have considered, though at some point all options may be on the table.

“Right now, we have hope, like if I get my case approved maybe I upgrade, take some training,” she says.

That will not be the end of her worries. “Then maybe afterward I have stress for the job again because wherever you go they ask for experience.”

The Saints have to continue paying their mortgage, bills and property taxes, so cutbacks must come from elsewhere. No more day trips, no more takeout and no shopping for anything but necessities. The boys have played soccer every summer since they were young, but they may not get to his year. It will be a modest Christmas, and 11-year-old Gurjit will not be getting a new Xbox to replace his broken console for his upcoming birthday. Gurjit is now playing video games on the computer.

“Now I say, don’t break the computer now,” Paramjeet says, laughing. (Link)

When you hear about the hundreds of people let go from their jobs, the sheer numbers become overwhelming and desensitizing. I guess it takes the profile of a family, very much like your own, to bring the reality home. Canada is in a recession and Sikh-Canadians, along with the rest of the country, are going to economically suffer.


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31 Responses to “Recession Hits Sikh-Canadians”

  1. Manjit Singh says:

    Keep faith Singh Ji! Guru will guide you. There is no word called "Depression" or "Recession" in Sikh Dictionary! Since A Sikh is always in Chardi Kala and ready to work hard and smart! Please do ardas and ask for a blessing from Satguru. There will be opportunities moment you start being creative, efficient, frugal etc. Learn all you can from internet, library, books and guide your kids right thru these difficult times by being a good leader.

  2. Manjit Singh says:

    Keep faith Singh Ji! Guru will guide you. There is no word called “Depression” or “Recession” in Sikh Dictionary! Since A Sikh is always in Chardi Kala and ready to work hard and smart! Please do ardas and ask for a blessing from Satguru. There will be opportunities moment you start being creative, efficient, frugal etc. Learn all you can from internet, library, books and guide your kids right thru these difficult times by being a good leader.

  3. baingandabhartha says:

    Right on! Manjit Singhji! Right ON

  4. baingandabhartha says:

    Right on! Manjit Singhji! Right ON

  5. deepinder says:

    Really sad and unbelievable. No one here can imagine that such things can happen in Canada.

  6. deepinder says:

    Really sad and unbelievable. No one here can imagine that such things can happen in Canada.

  7. Jay Singh says:

    These are very tough times! Hopefully this family will be able to find a job!

  8. Jay Singh says:

    These are very tough times! Hopefully this family will be able to find a job!

  9. Raja says:

    I enjoyed reading this article. I think one thing this post and articel made me realize is that how lucky we are as second generation punjabis. These recession affects all of us, but I think the direness that is exemplified in this article, will be somehwat distinct to the older generation. They are untrained workers from abroad, something that maybe our generation wont have to deal with.

    Having said that, seeing your own people in this situation breaks your heart, but if there is anywhere in the world that one can succeed in a time like this, it is defintely here in Canada.

  10. Raja says:

    I enjoyed reading this article. I think one thing this post and articel made me realize is that how lucky we are as second generation punjabis. These recession affects all of us, but I think the direness that is exemplified in this article, will be somehwat distinct to the older generation. They are untrained workers from abroad, something that maybe our generation wont have to deal with.

    Having said that, seeing your own people in this situation breaks your heart, but if there is anywhere in the world that one can succeed in a time like this, it is defintely here in Canada.

  11. Johanne says:

    If I'm not mistaken, 80% of exports in Canada go to America. If the US is hit bad, Canada is aso rocked. Hopefully, better times lie ahead. We just have to weather this economic storm – sacrifice, spend less, be practical etc.

  12. Johanne says:

    If I’m not mistaken, 80% of exports in Canada go to America. If the US is hit bad, Canada is aso rocked. Hopefully, better times lie ahead. We just have to weather this economic storm – sacrifice, spend less, be practical etc.

  13. Jess says:

    i am hoping that the global economy would recover from this economic recession. life has been very hard with these massive job cuts.

  14. indian sikh and prou says:

    My dear brothers and sisters,please don't say things against india because if recession keep hitting the western world like this every 5 years then you never know when you might need to go back to punjab which happens to be in INDIA…….phir oh na gal hovey apney naal"key dhoobi dey kuttey na ghar dey rahey na ghaat dey"

  15. Jess says:

    i am hoping that the global economy would recover from this economic recession. life has been very hard with these massive job cuts.

  16. indian sikh and proud of it says:

    My dear brothers and sisters,please don’t say things against india because if recession keep hitting the western world like this every 5 years then you never know when you might need to go back to punjab which happens to be in INDIA…….phir oh na gal hovey apney naal”key dhoobi dey kuttey na ghar dey rahey na ghaat dey”

  17. Harinder says:

    Why are u such a pessimist.

    We will go to Mars or some other Universe.

    Canada is not the only country in this Universe to welcome SIKHS.

  18. Harinder says:

    Why are u such a pessimist.
    We will go to Mars or some other Universe.
    Canada is not the only country in this Universe to welcome SIKHS.

  19. JPS says:

    Well dude, its never going to happen. Why there is not much effect of recession felt in India, because the recession is due to credit crunch and Indian is not a credit culture, they are getting there, but it will take long time. About going back to Punjab, well in west, including US and Canada, has some system designed, which they are following and changing according to the needs, the system, which indian culture do not believe in, If some one think that they are better off in India, well, try it. I am sure you will go back to where ever country in the west you are living in and then it will be ”key dhoobi dey kuttey na ghar dey rahey na ghaat dey”

    Have fun

  20. JPS says:

    Well dude, its never going to happen. Why there is not much effect of recession felt in India, because the recession is due to credit crunch and Indian is not a credit culture, they are getting there, but it will take long time. About going back to Punjab, well in west, including US and Canada, has some system designed, which they are following and changing according to the needs, the system, which indian culture do not believe in, If some one think that they are better off in India, well, try it. I am sure you will go back to where ever country in the west you are living in and then it will be ”key dhoobi dey kuttey na ghar dey rahey na ghaat dey”
    Have fun

  21. indian sikh and prou says:

    JPS teriyan gallan lagda bas tu hi samajh sakda hai……khush reh mere khalistani veer

  22. JPS says:

    Well, Its simple to understand all you need to do is read the comments before my comment. 2ndly i am not a Khalistani freak

  23. indian sikh and proud of it says:

    JPS teriyan gallan lagda bas tu hi samajh sakda hai……khush reh mere khalistani veer

  24. JPS says:

    Well, Its simple to understand all you need to do is read the comments before my comment. 2ndly i am not a Khalistani freak

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  27. many thanks for the amazing essay , i realy gained alot of info. that i was searching for

  28. Great and fantastic post ,i like this site.

  29. India Is always open for them. If they are having problem in Recession, They should move from there.

  30. United India says:

    That does not mean that they have to suffer there. They can come to india and start with fresh. There are a lot of opportunity in India Now.

  31. Really bad that in a develop nation discrimination like this exist the post is very heart touching