BY HARNOOR GILL
Grade 10 student
Christ The King Catholic Secondary
I recently attended a hockey game in Milton at the Milton Memorial Arena that was an international game. The visiting team was from Germany and it was amazing to see the way they behaved outside of their native country. This is interesting because the players kept their heritage as well as their culture by talking to each other in German and interacting with other families in German as well. It was inspiring to see how these players from another country such as Germany acted as if it was Germany and not Canada. It’s nice to know that there are people in this world that attempt to keep their traditions and culture alive. However, it’s not the same for all cultures and I am here to discuss one that I happen to be a part of.
I am not pinpointing anything or trying to prove someone wrong but I am raising awareness on a growing issue that I believe needs to be resolved. I happen to be born in a Punjabi family raised with traditions as well as beliefs that are tied to my culture. Usually when I am at home, I speak in Punjabi, help do chores around the house as well as respect my parents. It gives me a sense of pride to be able to speak in a language other than English as well as keeping ties to my culture. I also receive gratitude from elders to be able to keep the Punjabi mother tongue alive as well as the traditions behind our culture. Some of the traditions that I am well aware of and participate in are bhangra dancing, reading, talking, interacting and listening – all in Punjabi. This is one of the reasons why I am proud to speak my language with my family and friends.
I notice almost every day how hard Punjabi parents try to keep their children engaged within the culture and language as well as the way of life. I can see this when they are coming back from work and put their children before themselves by spending some quality time with them. My parents do the exact same thing by spending as much time with me as they can, to teach me life’s lessons that they have learned from past experiences that are always welcome as they are always beneficial to me.
It’s always beneficial when someone is bilingual. Since there is a thriving community of South Asians in Canada, Punjabi is considered as a relevant language to be well versed in. Essentially, people of any race or background shouldn’t be embarrassed by this just to fit in. Instead, they should continue to learn their language to the best of their abilities.
I am surprised that a majority of my peers who attend Punjabi class with me every Saturday morning feel ashamed about this and would rather be speaking in English. It makes the teacher and some of the students sad that for one day, students are not able to communicate with each other in Punjabi at school. This clearly indicates that a lot of the students are forced against their own will to be attending Punjabi classes. Unfortunately, this also indicates that in the future many of these same teenagers will not want to teach their own children the language that they learned from their parents. They won’t be able to communicate in Punjabi and talk about traditions with their children either.
It’s time for a change and we need to start action as soon as possible because at this rate, the culture of Punjabis could most likely be diminished in the future.