Punjabi Intercultural History Advisory Committee

Advisor Bios

Ms. Shushma Datt, OBC

Raised in Kenya, Shushma graduated from the University of New Delhi and moved to London, England where she received her broadcast training and established a reputation as a prominent broadcaster with the BBC. Shushma is heralded for launching the world’s first 24-hour dedicated radio station for South Asians outside of India in 1987.

Regarded as a media pioneer and a respected veteran broadcaster, Shushma is also President and CEO of i.t. Media Broadcasting, Western Canada’s largest South Asian media organization, with properties including 2 radio stations and 3 television programs. For the past 44 years, Shushma has been dedicated to encouraging intercultural harmony and cross-cultural understanding.

Mr. Mo Dhaliwal, vice chair

Mr. Mo Dhaliwal began his career working in the technology sector, first in Vancouver and later as a software developer in Silicon Valley. As a patron of the arts and producer of cultural events, Mo has worked to shatter barriers between people and encourage cross-cultural understanding, most notably through the creation of the Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration Society. As Director of Strategy for Skyrocket, a digital agency in Vancouver, Mo collaborates with creative minds across the country and continues to create moving experiences for clients and community. Mo has been recognized for his contributions with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, as the national recipient of the Arnold Edinborough Award from Business for the Arts, and, most recently,with a Mayor’s Arts Award for “Board Member of the Year”.

Mr. Harbhajan Gill

Mr. Harbhajan Gill is the President of the Komagata Maru Heritage Foundation and a member of the Anniversaries of Change Steering Committee, as well as Vice President of PCHC-Museum of Migration and a director of the Richmond Museum Society. The mission of the KMHF is to capture the stories of the people who suffered on the Komagata Maru, to educate future generations about the importance of this incident to our society and to promote Indian culture in Canada. The KMHF has organized annual dinners and walks to commemorate the anniversary of the Komagata Maru incident. Mr. Gill has been active in getting recognition for Komagata Maru passengers through the release of a commemorative stamp on the 100th anniversary of Komagata Maru, and he is pressing the Canadian Government to apologize for this tragedy in the House of Commons.

Dr. Balbir Gurm, chair

Balbir Gurm, RN, BSN, MA, EdD is a member of the Faculty of Health at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and a community activist. Raised in Vancouver, she is the founding editor-in-chief of Transformative Dialogues: Teaching and Learning Journal. Dr. Gurm was honoured with the Teaching Excellence Award from the College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia (2000), the NISOD Teaching Excellence Award from the University of Texas (2000) and Academic Excellence Awards from Times of Canada (2013) and from Shakti (2014). Her doctoral dissertation was a social audit of Kwantlen Polytechnic University. She founded NEVR (Network to Eliminate Violence in Relationships; www.kpu.ca/NEVR) whose vision is "for violence in relationships to be non-existent in our community." Dr. Gurm is a passionate educator and leader who believes that educational experiences are influenced by history and context (including power and politics), that they need to be grounded in reality and that educators need to translate academic knowledge into community actions. She raises issues of equity in many spheres including equity in definitions, in policies and practices and in human experiences. For the last four years, Dr. Gurm has led a community action project to eliminate violence in relationships. She has managed to bring together community partners from policing, volunteer service, and government service sectors and from government to work on eliminating violence in relationships.

Ms. Moninder Lalli

Ms. Moninder Kaur Lalli is a librarian at Simon Fraser University who was part of a team that developed the vision for the Komagata Maru Website, a project funded by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration under their Community Historical Recognition Program (CHRP) (http://komagatamarujourney.ca/). It is a key resource on the history of the Indo-Canadian community, and includes digitized content such as the rare diary of the Khalsa Diwan Society by Arjan Singh Chand, an out-of-print book by Giani Kesar Singh on the Komagata Maru, Sushma Datt’s documentary for the 75th Anniversary of the Komagata Maru and President Nehru’s speech. Moninder has been instrumental in the development of the South Asian collection at the SFU Library, including oral histories, photographs, books, manuscripts, diaries and magazines. As Chair of the Library Programme Advisory Committee of the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, she has oversees the program which obtains scholarly material published in India for Canadian academic libraries. Moninder has assisted faculty, community members and institutions such as the Vancouver Maritime Museum with their research. In 2014, she was recognized for her work on the Komagata Maru website and the preservation of the history of the Sikh community. Moninder is also an artist with several solo exhibits to her credit.

Dr. Anne Murphy

Dr. Anne Murphy (PhD Columbia) is Associate Professor in the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia. She teaches and conducts research on the cultural and religious history of South Asia, with a special focus on Punjab. Her monograph, The Materiality of the Past: History and Representation in Sikh Tradition (Oxford University Press, 2012), explored the construction of Sikh memory and historical consciousness in texts, objects and sites from the eighteenth century to the twentieth. Her current research concerns the Punjabi language movement and modern Punjabi literature in the Indian and Pakistani Punjabs and in the Punjabi speaking Diaspora. She is from New York City.

Mr. Steven Purewal

Born and raised in the UK, Mr. Purewal’s educational background includes an MSc in Business Systems Analysis & Design City from the University of London. He worked in an Information Technology consulting firm in the UK and India, a role that included Sociocultural Competency Development. He is now settled in Surrey with his wife and three children. Steven is also a community historian, Curator and Managing Director of Indus Media Foundation. Indus Media Foundation (IMFC.org) is a registered non-profit society based in the lower mainland that fosters an appreciation for Punjabi culture within the wider community through progressive dialogues that reconcile Canada’s traditional heritage and values with those of the Punjabi Diaspora.

Mr. Nindi Sehmi

Mr. Sehmi was born in Nairobi, Kenya in a Sikh home; his parents came from Punjab, India. He was educated in England and became a professional architect. He held senior architect positions in Kenya, Tanzania, England and then Canada. He has always been involved in quasi-political/cultural activities—always an ardent and active volunteer. In Victoria, he has been a dynamic member of the Indo Canadian Cultural Association and the Khalsa Diwan Society.

You are here