By Balwant Sanghera
VANCOUVER: It was a very special day at India Cultural Centre of Canada Gurdwara Nanak Niwas in Richmond here.
It was the birthday celebration of an Indo-Canadian pioneer and legend – Asa Singh Johal.
At 94, he is probably the oldest Indo-Canadian pioneer, businessman and philanthropist. Born in 1922 in Punjab, Asa Singh Johal was just one and a half years when he travelled with his father to Canada.
Starting from scratch, Mr. Johal has built a very successful business enterprise. His Terminal Group of companies including two sawmills and a remanufacturing plant in Washington State, employing more than 500 people has made Asa Singh Johal as one of the leading businessmen in the province.
Asa Singh Johal has not only excelled in his business acumen but also he stands at the front line of philanthropy.
This soft spoken stalwart of the Indo-Canadian community and chairman of India Cultural Centre of Canada Gurdwara Nanak Niwas, has donated millions of dollars to various worthwhile causes and organizations. Be it the Children’s Hospital, UBC, Cancer Society, Vancouver General Hospital, Richmond Hospital or any other cause, Asa is there to help. He has donated more than $4 million to the BC Children’s Hospital so far and still giving more every year. Furthermore, Asa and his family have donated $1.5 million to the BC Cancer Society/Foundation beside the VGH. On top of that he has donated generously to UBC for various projects including scholarships for students.
The Johal Family answered the call for an auditorium in Asa’s hometown Jandiala (Jalandhar) by building an impressive auditorium at a cost of $165,000 at Girls Higher secondary School. This school serves more than 750 students over an 18 kilometer radius around Jandiala. It is an impressive facility designed to serve the growing needs of the school. Not only that, whenever there is a worthwhile cause Asa and his family are there to help.
At 94, Asa keeps himself fully active not only physically but also socially and mentally. As a matter of fact, he is a great role model for others.
The management committee of India Cultural Centre of Canada Gurdwara Nanak Niwas was pleased to recognize Mr. Johal’s contribution. On behalf of the management committee General Secretary Mohan Singh Sandhu and Assistant Secretary Balwant Singh Sanghera paid very deserving tribute to Mr. Johal and his wife Mrs. Kashmir Kaur Johal. The overflowing Diwan (Prayer) Hall included the entire Johal family as well as a large number of relatives, friends, well- wishers and prominent members of the community. On behalf of the management committee President Sohan Singh Basi and Mrs. Kashmir Kaur Johal presented Asa Singh Johal with a beautiful plaque honouring Mr. Johal’s dedication, commitment, leadership and service.