Indo-Canadian Among 14 Be Awarded 2011 Order Of British Columbia

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By R. Paul Dhillon

VICTORIA – An Indo-Canadian immigrants right activist is among the 14 British Columbians are being recognized for their contributions with the Order of British Columbia, Lieutenant-Governor Steven Point, Chancellor of the Order, announced Friday.

“The Order of British Columbia recognizes the excellence and achievements of our citizens. It is the highest honour we can bestow on individuals in our province,” Point said.

Baljit Sethi is the lone Indo-Canadian, who will be picking up her award alongside former Premier Gordon Campbell, who was hastily put out to the pasture for his HST debacle and BC Rail scandal, which ate into his support. They must be awarding this honour to Campbell as a consolation prize for his political banishment. But the Conservatives have already doled out patronage in the form of British Ambassadorship. Guess this is BC’s little prize.

The interior BC-based Sethi has dedicated her life to helping immigrants to Canada and pursuing equality and justice for all Canadians, reads her bio from the merit press release issued by the Order of BC.

She was born in Lahore, India. She immigrated to Canada in 1972. Before comingto Canada, she was a senior instructor counsellor in a reputed community college in India.

In 1974, she began working with the Immigrant Services Society of British Columbia as a family counsellor and then as a settlement counsellor, assisting newcomers to Canada with settlement services. In 1976 she founded the Immigrants Services Society of Prince George, now known as the Immigrant & Multicultural Services Society (IMSS).

Through her work with IMSS she soon realized that newcomers’ integration in the community could not be achieved without multicultural programs and promotion of racial harmony. She encouraged interaction of immigrants with the host community and was instrumental in promoting multiculturalism in Prince George, thereby benefitting the entire northern British Columbia region. Scores of multicultural and anti-racism projects designed by Sethi and delivered under her guidance are still being delivered today.

Through 38 years of dedicated service to newcomers’ integration and the promotion of multiculturalism, Sethi has changed the community’s outlook. An artist in her own right (author, painter and performing artist since before leaving India), she is also an activist and advocate for immigrant women and has become a source of inspiration to them and to the community at large.

Sethi has dedicated herself to improving the quality of life for Prince George by providing extraordinary care and help to immigrants and refugees and advancing women’s equality.

“I want to offer my congratulations to all of this year’s Order of British Columbia recipients,” said Premier Christy Clark. “The one shared trait amongst all of them is a passion for making British Columbia a better place.”

This year’s recipients are:

* Luigi Aquilini of Vancouver – builder, entrepreneur, philanthropist

* Peter Norman Baird of Vancouver – bridge-builder between Aboriginal and non-

Aboriginal British Columbians

* Gordon M. Campbell of Vancouver – visionary, leader, proud British Columbian

* Ken Dobell of Vancouver – dedicated public servant

* Crystal Dunahee of Victoria – community leader and advocate for child safety

* The Honourable David Emerson, P.C. of Vancouver – private and public sector

leader

* Yuri Fulmer of West Vancouver – dynamic entrepreneur and dedicated volunteer

* Tim Jones of North Vancouver – dedicated search and rescue leader

* Dr. Phil Muir of Hazelton – long-time northern doctor and innovator

* J.C. (Jim) O’Rourke, P.Eng. of West Vancouver – builder of British Columbia’s

mining communities

* Karen O’Shannacery of Vancouver – tireless advocate for homeless people

* Jim Robson of Vancouver – the voice of hockey in British Columbia

* Baljit Sethi of Prince George – advocate for immigrants and for equality

* Ellen White of Nanaimo – native educator and activist

Recipients of the Order of British Columbia have been selected by an independent advisory committee from public nominations. The 2011 Advisory Committee consists of: Lance S. G. Finch (chair), Chief Justice of British Columbia; Bill Barisoff, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and MLA for Penticton; Dr. Ralph Nilson, president and vice-chancellor, Vancouver Island University; Councillor Barbara Steele, president, Union of British Columbia Municipalities; Pierrette Maranda, associate deputy minister, Intergovernmental Relations Secretariat; and John Furlong, O.B.C., and Barbara Ward-Burkitt, O.B.C. (previous recipients of the Order).

The Order of B.C. investiture ceremony will be held for recipients and invited guests at Government House in Victoria on Oct. 4, 2011. Since the Order was first introduced in 1989, 301 people have received the honour.

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