Gurdial Oppal’s 100-year journey


Gurdial Oppal moved to Duncan, B.C.,  in 1934 to start a new life in Canada.
(Rana Vig/Mehfil Magazine) Photo by Ron Sangha Photography

Gurdial Oppal’s 100-year journey
Adapted by Nancy Carson from the book 100 Year Journey 
Level 1

It is the early 1900s.
South Asian people begin
to come to B.C.
In 1932 in Punjab, India,
Gurdial Oppal gets married.
She is young. She is under 20.

Two years later, she travels
on a ship to Duncan, B.C.
Duncan is on Vancouver Island.
Her husband gets a job
at a lumber mill.
Soon the couple have two sons.

Map of India Map by Wikipedia

Map of India (Punjab area in red)
Map by Wikipedia

In 1948, Gurdial’s husband dies.
The boys are 10 and seven.
She does not have any money.
She cannot read or write.
What will she do?
She has many hardships.
She learns quickly and
she works very hard.

Gurdial starts to work
Gurdial gets a job as a house-keeper.
She works for the owner of the mill.
Every day, she gets $1.50
for three hours of work.
The family lives on very little money.
She buys cows and
sells the milk to people.
Gurdial tells her sons that nothing is easy.
She teaches them to work hard.

Gurdial’s son, Wally
Gurdial’s oldest son is Wally.
He respects his mother.
“She disciplined us,” he says.
She controlled her sons.

Wally goes to university.
He buys his first suit
when he gets his BA degree.


Wally Oppal
is the second Indo-Canadian
to serve as Attorney General
of B.C.
(Rana Vig/Mehfil Magazine)
Photo by Ron Sangha Photography

Law school
Later, Wally starts law school.
Every day he takes the bus to school.
After law school, he buys a car.
Later, he becomes a judge.

A winner
In 2005, Wally became a member
of the government of B.C.
Later, he becomes the second
Indo-Canadian to be Attorney-General of B.C.
The Attorney-General gives advice
about law to the government.

Wally’s hardships
Wally remembers the old days.
There was a lot of racism.
Indo-Canadians did not get
good jobs in business.

Why did Wally study law?
One reason was his skin colour.
Indo-Canadians became teachers
or doctors or lawyers.
They worked alone in these jobs.
And other people would see
Indo-Canadians work hard.

Gurdial’s thoughts at 100
Gurdial now lives in New Westminster.
She feels it is important
to keep your culture.
But she says newcomers
must do their best to fit in.
And she thinks that newcomers
need to mix more with other people.

Gurdial continues her 100-year journey.
“Life was hard,” she says,
“but I always remained happy.”


  1. hardships:  difficult things that you live with for a long time
  2. disciplined:  trained someone to follow rules
    and to behave well
  3. racism:  to not like someone because of their race,
    skin colour or culture

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