Efforts to improve Punjabi signage at Vancouver International Airport


RECENTLY, the question of Punjabi signage and a lack thereof has gained prominence in our community. Some questions have been raised with respect to the signage at Vancouver International Airport (YVR). With this in mind, representatives of Punjabi Language Education Association (PLEA), in co-operation with Surrey-Newton MLA Harry Bains, arranged to meet with officials of YVR.

The meeting was held on August 7 in the administrative offices of the airport. Our delegation included three PLEA members, Sadhu Binning, Parvinder Dhariwal and I. In addition to that we had three representatives from gurdwaras. They were Sohan Deo, President, Khalsa Diwan Society, Vancouver, Chain Batth, President, Gurdwara Nanak Niwas (#5 Road), Richmond, and Narinder Singh Walia, President, Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran and spokesperson for eight Metro Vancouver gurdwaras. Former World Sikh Organization president Prem Singh Vinning and Harry Bains were also present. The YVR was represented by Reg Krake, Director, Customer Care, and Kathy Nyfors, Manager, Customer Care (Guest Relations).

The meeting took place in a very respectful and cordial environment. Bains and I conveyed our concerns regarding the status of Punjabi language signage at YVR.We requested YVR officials  to look into this matter and take appropriate measures to ensure that Punjabi, the third-most spoken language in Canada and Metro Vancouver, gets its rightful place at YVR and around the province. Other members of the delegation reinforced our concerns and requested quick action in this regard.

YVR reps were very receptive to our concerns and assured us they would look into this carefully. As a result of these discussions, it is likely that in the next few weeks Binning and I will be invited for a guided tour of YVR (including the secure area) and make suggestions for improved / more signage in Punjabi. We will wait to hear from them.

In the meantime, PLEA will be pursuing with Canada Border Services Agency and Destination (Tourism) BC the issue of Punjabi signage at entry points from Alaska, Alberta and Washington State.

For quite some time PLEA has been approached about poor translation of English materials into Punjabi. This relates to all three levels of government – local, provincial and federal. It has been noticed that a number of these translations are of very poor quality.  In this context, on behalf of PLEA, I would like to urge all three levels of government to enlist the services of well qualified and duly certified translators to do the translation for them. PLEA would be more than pleased to assist in this regard. Also, I would request members of our community to be on the lookout and ensure that translations from English into Punjabi are done by fully qualified persons.

Finally, on behalf of PLEA I would like to invite every well-wisher of Punjabi to act as its advocate and ambassador. Only then we can succeed in getting this great language the status it deserves.



President, Punjabi Language Education Association