Culture & Lifestyle / Vancouver Street To Be Named After Sikh Pioneer And Activist Jack Uppal

Vancouver Street To Be Named After Sikh Pioneer And Activist Jack Uppal

Culture & Lifestyle Apr 02, 2016

The man who influenced so many people, Jagat "Jack" Uppal, was a self-made mill owner and a patriarch of the Sikh community. 

Born in Punjab and coming to Canada in 1926 as a baby, Uppal went on to become one of the first Sikhs to attend school. He was forced to leave at an early age to help his family make ends meet. He then became one of the first Sikhs to be a bus driver for B.C. Electric.

Uppal had to endure a difficult road as an immigrant, but he was undefeated. He fought to overcome racism and aided other South Asians who wanted the same respect as fellow Canadians.

The one-man network for newcomers, Jack Uppal, in his early days.
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Uppal turned his experiences into stepping stones and went from struggling immigrant to successful Sikh entrepreneur. He then took on the role of assisting thousands of Sikh newcomers who were trying to establish themselves in B.C. As Uppal gained prominence in the sawmill industry, he also employed many of those immigrants and helped as much as he could.

In 2012, Uppal's hard for work for the South Asian community was honoured by Simon Fraser University with an honorary degree. 

"My love for humanity is the essence of my being. I want to infect you with the same desire to do for others as you would do for yourself because greatness is defined by service," he said in his acceptance speech.

After his passing almost two years ago, Uppal's memorial service was attended by thousands of British Columbians who recognized the early South Asian pioneer and the mantra he stood behind. 

Uppal fought for respect and was honoured for his contributions.
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As every legendary man leaves behind a legacy, Uppal is still breaking barriers by having a street named after him. It's the first time Vancouver will be naming a street after a South Asian — another first for Uppal's long list as a South Asian pioneer.

Jack Uppal Street will serve as a reminder of Uppal's efforts, unconditional favours and love for the community at large.

Jack Uppal, 1925–2014
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Wally Oppal, former B.C. Supreme Court Justice and close friend to Uppal, said, “I think he’d be proud. Jack was well aware of the contributions he made. He was quite proud of his accomplishments and he should have been. He helped so many people."

Oppal said that, like many early South Asians, Uppal felt there was a great need to integrate into Canadian society, but "despite those efforts, racism hasn't entirely subsided".

Main Image Photo Credit:
Nomaan Khan

Nomaan Khan


After spending some time in a completely different field, Nomaan decided to drop it all and switch to Mohawk College to pursue his longtime interest in the world of Journalism. His experience working in multimedia platforms has helped him develop exceptional skills in thinking on his feet, being ...


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