City Council in Prince George, British Columbia is strongly considering two requests to add Punjabi to some signs in the city. Officials at Guru Gobind Singh Temple and Guru Nanak Darbar Sikh Temple complained that it was difficult for many native Punjabi speakers to find these places of worship.
“We think we need signs in Punjabi and English because we’ve got community living here, lots of people (who do) not read English,” said Pal Bassi, secretary with the Guru Nanak Darbar Sikh Society.
“If (people) go by, they don’t know about the Sikh temple, if they see the sign they can come if they need food, a cup of tea, or overnight, we can arrange something,” said Narinder Singh Pawar, president of the Guru Gobin Singh Temple Association.
Prince George mayor Lyn Hall supports the idea of multi-lingual signs and said they would be reflective of the growing cultural diversity in Prince George.
Prince George city staff will report back to council with the cost of adding Punjabi to the streets signs at an upcoming meeting.
In the 2011 census, 88.7 % of the population of Prince George reported English as their mother tongue, while 8.8 % reported a non-official language, 1.6 % listed Punjabi.
While there seems to be widespread political support for adding Punjabi signs in the city, online comments from readers who got to know of this were far from supportive. Some thought it would be a better idea to spend the money it would cost on putting up Punjabi signage on English-language classes for non-English speakers. Others believed that anyone who chooses to live in Canada should be able to speak and understand either English or French.