Bob’s Weekly Report
There are few residents who have made such a positive impact on their community as Baljit Sethi has had on Prince George and Northern British Columbia as a whole.
Baljit was born in India and immigrated to Canada in 1972. In 1976, she founded the Immigrant Services Society of Prince George (now known as the Immigrant and Multicultural Services Society) where she was the executive director until her retirement in 2017.
During her over 40 years as the executive director, Baljit worked tirelessly to help immigrants adjust to life in Northern BC and to encourage integration and inclusivity within the community. There is little doubt that her work in promoting multiculturalism has benefitted the entire region.
Her accolades are many. She’s received the Prince George Citizen of the Year award in 2006, the BC Community Achievement Award in 2007, the 1992 Governor General’s Award to mark the 125th anniversary of the confederation of Canada, the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Paul Yuzyk Award for Multiculturalism, and the Order of BC in 2011. I also had the honour of presenting Baljit with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.
During her limited spare time, she has also been an active member of our community and has served on a number of different committees and boards.
Through it all, she has remained humble and focused, using her own personal experiences to help support those who have decided to make Canada their home. As she said in a 2017 Prince George Citizen article on her life and her career:
“I feel very lucky that God gave me the opportunity to help other immigrants. When they cry I understand immediately because my heart and my life was always dedicated to helping them through my programs at IMSS. I am their Canadian mom – what a compliment.”
On July 28, the Immigrant and Multicultural Services Society held a ceremony to thank Baljit for her years of service and to officially name their building ‘The Baljit Sethi Centre’. She was also presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award and I was honoured to be able to attend the event and have the opportunity to meet her husband Bal. It was great to see so many others out to celebrate her as well, community leaders like MP Todd Doherty, MLA Shirley Bond, Mayor Lyn Hall and City Councillors Frank Everitt, Garth Frizzell, Murry Krause and Susan Scott.
It was an honour to publicly thank her for all she has done for those new to Canada and new to the Prince George area specifically, as I stated at the event, “she makes people who have moved with their families around the world feel at home here in our community.”
Congratulations to Baljit on your remarkable career and for your service to the community. You have been instrumental in ensuring that our region is a welcoming community where newcomers to Canada can grow and thrive.
I wish you all the best in your retirement.
Member of Parliament
Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies