Family honours new life in Canada with PRH gift

Karnail and Bachini Sidhu have lived in Penticton for 48 years after immigrating to Canada from the Punjab in northern India. They and their family have made a significant donation to the SOS Medical Foundation’s campaign to provide medical equipment for the PRH expansion.

A foreign land, all so very new, but hard work and dedication paved the way.

Now years after starting a new life in the Okanagan, Karnail Sidhu proudly acknowledges it was all worthwhile. Karnail and his wife, Bachini are making a major donation in support of Penticton Regional Hospital.

Karnail arrived in Canada from the Punjab in northern India in 1969, at first working with his brother at a sawmill in Mackenzie, BC.  After he moved to Penticton in 1971, Karnail was joined by Bachini and their five children ranging in age from 3 to 16 years old.

Karnail gained employment at the former Northwood (later Weyerhaeuser) sawmill in Okanagan Falls.  While he worked full time at the mill, he also worked daily in the orchards. He remained at the mill from 1971 until his retirement in 1996.

Daughter Bira said the long hours her father worked didn’t go unnoticed by the rest of the family.

“That’s where we, as kids, have seen the hardships that our parents have gone through since coming to Canada,” she said. “He was working at least 16 hours a day, if not more.”

Meanwhile, Bachini worked at the former Aylmer cannery and in the orchards, while also being kept busy at home with their five children and many others.

“We were one of the first (Indo) families here. The immigrants my father helped come to Canada were welcomed to live with us until they were able to get on their own feet,” Bira recalled. “My father accommodated them in every way possible – for them to feel as part of the family and to pursue their dreams of one day having their families join them.”

“Mom is definitely my Dad’s anchor. I don’t know how she did it, but we can never thank her enough,” Bira added. “They’re both incredible because they have really big hearts and they have always wanted to be part of the community as well.”

Karnail served as vice-president of the committee that built the Penticton Sikh Temple on South Main Street in the mid-1980s.  His oldest son later served as vice-president of the Temple board as well.

Karnail and Bachini decided to make a generous donation to the South Okanagan Similkameen Medical Foundation’s $20-million campaign to provide the medical equipment for the PRH expansion.

“We decided to give to the hospital, as this is where we built a life,” Karnail said.

The new tower at Penticton Regional Hospital opens on April 29. The Sidhu family also continues to give to various charitable causes in their home village in Punjab as well.