By Minister Sohi
I hope that the start of 2018 finds you well and that the holiday season was festive, fun, and restful.
Over the holidays my wife Sarbjeet and I travelled to India on our first family vacation since before I was elected. It was an opportunity to reflect on a busy year and reconnect with family and friends. As a proud Canadian who is deeply grateful for all of the opportunities our country has given me, this trip was a reminder of how much our countries have in common, despite being a world apart.
We spent some time in my home village of Banbhaura in Punjab, visiting my sister and her family in their village of Rauni, and meeting up with childhood friends. Just like many small, rural towns in Canada, the community spirit there is strong and vibrant. So many of the village activities are driven by groups of engaged citizens working together to make their communities better places to call home. I had the opportunity to spend time with one group in my village who volunteer their time to provide recreation opportunities to the children of the village. Without their hard work, many of the kids would not be able to participate in sports like soccer or volleyball. They are even working together to build a local stadium to allow more people to take part.
Later in the trip, we travelled to the city of Agra to spend some time with friends. When I lived in India, I never had the opportunity to visit the Taj Mahal and was thrilled finally be able to make the journey. It was a moving and memorable experience, made all the better because I was able to share the experience with Sarbjeet and our friends. I hope to be able to return one day for another visit.
India is continuing to develop and, like most places, continues to face its share of challenges. Most people don’t enjoy many of the everyday things that we take for granted in Canada. But, despite this, the generosity and resiliency of the Indian people always inspires me. It is another way that our countries are alike and makes me proud that I’m able to call both places home.
The relationship between Canada and India is underpinned by our shared values of democracy and pluralism and continues to strengthen through expanding economic engagement and international cooperation. More than 1,000 Canadian companies are now doing business with or in India and that number continues to climb. Canada is also home to more than 1 million Canadians of Indian heritage, who contribute every day to the diversity, vibrancy, and productivity of our communities. The strong person-to-person relationships between citizens in our two countries bodes well for an even stronger relationship moving forward. There are also lots of opportunities for Canada and India to work together to promote our shared values of diversity and inclusion, women’s rights, and engagement on the international stage.
In the next couple of weeks I will be heading back to Ottawa to continue working on your behalf. I am looking forward to the opportunity to continue to serve and encourage you to reach out if I or my office can be of assistance throughout the year.