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In service of the community

Baldev Mutta is the founder and CEO of  Punjabi Community Health Services (PCHS) which offers programs in the areas of  mental health, addictions, settlement services, geriatrics, better families, community development, social enterprise and services for professionals.

He came to Canada in 1968 as an 18-year-old from what was West Germany where his father was posted as an Indian diplomat at the time.

Seeing a man crying at a bus stop, he stopped to ask how he could help. The man had been injured at work, but was being denied compensation as he had failed to inform his office and fill out the appropriate forms before going home.

Mutta called the Worker’s Compensation Board on the man’s behalf and was told to appeal. They did, and the case was settled in his favour, but it led Mutta to the realization that there must be countless others who were in similar situations. The experience, coupled with his own personal experiences during the late 60s and early 70s informs his life’s work as a community activist.

The early years were good, with the immigration officer taking them to their hotel. He explained the currency, showed them how to take the bus, how to order food, how to apply for their SIN card, etc. They faced no discrimination, but the tide turned in 1972 with the economic downturn with which came a backlash against immigrants.

“The discrimination was huge, people couldn’t get even entry level jobs at factories. Things began to improve around 1978 when the government of the day began talking about diversity and multiculturalism.”

The Muttas have two sons, a daughter and two granddaughters, and he says it’s been a wonderful life.

He tells newcomers to be grounded in their culture, to take the time to talk to their children about their dreams.

“Some take up two jobs to help pay down the mortgage faster. While one must earn enough to live reasonably well, there’s no end to gadgets or conveniences money can buy. If you work more than you need to, if you are away for long hours, you will pay in more ways than one. You’ll be done with your mortgage in time, but your children will become distant, they will not acquire your values.

“My grandfather used to tell me that I was a natural born organizer and that I should use this to help people. It is tough work, but so very rewarding. When people come up to me at a wedding or at an airport and tell me how implementing a tip or strategy we suggested helped them and their children, I remember how my grandfather used to say it was my destiny to help others. His words motivate me to go on.”


Posted: Apr 3, 2019

May 2020

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