Punjabi literature is being celebrated at the Dhahan awards in Vancouver tonight and with the proclamation of Punjabi Literature Week Oct. 30 to Nov. 5, 2016, by the Government of British Columbia.
People of Punjabi descent have a history in British Columbia that spans more than 120 years. They have made significant contributions to the social and economic development of the province. Their rich culture has helped nurture the inclusiveness, understanding and mutual respect for which British Columbia is known.
The Dhahan Prize for Punjabi Literature promotes the preservation of Punjabi culture and heritage through recognition of emerging and established writers writing in the two Punjabi scripts: Gurmukhi and Shahmukhi.
The Dhahan Prize awards $25,000 to the best book of fiction written in one of the Punjabi scripts at the international level each year. This year’s top prize goes to Jarnail Singh for his short story collection, Kaale Varke, which translated means Black Pages. Singh came to Canada in 1988 from the Punjab in India, and now lives in Toronto.
Two runner-up prizes of $5,000 are also being awarded. The 2016 winners are:
- Zahid Hassan from Lahore, Pakistan, for his novel Tassi Dharti (Thirsty land).
- Simran Dhaliwal from the Punjab, India, for his short story collection Us Pal (That Moment).
The Dhahan Prize was established in 2013 by the Canada India Education Society in partnership with the University of British Columbia’s department of Asian studies. The prize is named after Vancouver entrepreneur and philanthropist Barj Dhahan, who is also the co-founder of the Canada India Education Society.
Delta North MLA Scott Hamilton is presenting the B.C. government’s proclamation at the Dhahan awards.
Teresa Wat, Minister of International Trade and Minister Responsible for Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism –
“The Dhahan Prize for Punjabi Literature is a wonderful way to celebrate a culture and a language and bring awareness to others of its rich heritage. Cultural diversity and increased participation by all cultures is vitally important to the creation of a strong and vibrant social and economic future for B.C.”
Scott Hamilton, MLA for Delta North –
“It’s my pleasure to participate in this celebration of Punjabi literature and long history of storytelling. This culture has strong representation in the Lower Mainland and throughout British Columbia, adding to our rich diversity.”
- 460,000 people identified as Punjabi-speaking in the 2011 Canada census, about one-quarter of whom were living in Metro Vancouver.
- Punjabi ranks third of the most-spoken languages in Canada.
- Sadhu Binning is one of B.C.’s most well-known Punjabi writers, having published a number of books of poetry, fiction, plays, translations and research and writing in both English and Punjabi.
- B.C. will recognize the province's multicultural champions in five categories (government, business, organization, youth and individual) at the British Columbia Multicultural Awards, which will be held Nov. 18, 2016, during Multiculturalism Week.