Founding Member of Ontario Sikh Community Dies

May 23, 2006


On May 23, 2006 reported, "To the province's Sikh community, he was a pioneer. Kuldeep Singh Chhatwal was the first Sikh to move his family into Ontario in the 1950s. In the 1960s, the Kitchener resident was a founding member of the local Golden Triangle Sikh Association. In the 1970s, he helped establish the first Sikh temple in Toronto and in the 1980s, he did the same in Kitchener. Chhatwal succumbed to cancer last week at 85 years old. 'By the time he died, he was considered the godfather of our community in Ontario,' Kan, 58, said. 'He was a very gentle man and a spiritual man.' Chhatwal came to Toronto ahead of his family in 1953, wearing his turban and a long beard. At the time, people weren't used to seeing a man in a turban and they were reluctant to hire him, Kan said. It wasn't until Chhatwal shaved his beard and took off the turban that he found a job as an electrical engineer, Kan said. 'He never held a grudge,' he said. 'That was just part of life.' But the experience motivated Chhatwal to help other new Canadians adjust to their surroundings. Chhatwal's extensive community involvement included providing refugee services through the Kitchener Waterloo Multicultural Centre. He was also a long-time member of the Liberal Party, the Kitchener Waterloo Kiwanis Club and the Waterloo Regional Police Citizen Advisory Board. Police chief Larry Gravel described Chhatwal as 'a community leader and visionary who devoted his life to helping others throughout Waterloo Region.' 'He had a tremendous impact on our Police Service and community,' Gravill said in an e-mail."