Canada and the United States have long been known as nations founded by immigrants, from the arrival of the first English and French settlers in the 15th century to the more recent arrival of immigrants from Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. However, the diversity of our populations has never really been reflected in our positions of power, in education, or in government, leaving large parts of society without representation or inspiration. Recently, however, Canada has seen an increase in the number of newer Canadians elected and appointed to office, including Michaëlle Jean, former Governor General of Canada, Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, and Harjit Sajjan, Minister of National Defence. The US, too, has made progress, most recently with the appointment of Prett Didbal, who made history in December as the first known Sikh woman in North America to assume the role of a city mayor. Can you take inspiration from her story?
Ms. Didbal grew up in a traditional Sikh household, the daughter of immigrants from India’s Punjab region. She overcame tremendous obstacles before she would go on to be elected mayor of Yuba City, California, including her community’s expectation that she would assume the traditional role of wife and mother. Ms. Didbal is also a survivor of rape, having been violently assaulted as a young woman, an act for which her parents held her largely responsible. However, she prevailed: going on to earn a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a master’s of business administration. Today, she presides over the municipal council for Yuba City, and can proudly call herself North America’s first Sikh female mayor.
Learn more from the Los Angels Times’ interview with Ms. Didbal here, including the importance of Sikhism in her life, and the most difficult discussion she had with her own daughter.
You can also read the Los Angeles Times’ interview with Mayor Didbal at the link below: