In 2017 the Harjit Kaur Sidhu Memorial program welcomed Samuel John, award-winning actor and theatre activist, back to UBC to perform for the public. Hundreds of Punjabi language enthusiasts gathered in North Delta to watch Mr. John’s performance, in collaboration with Rangmanch Punjabi Theatre, of two works in Punjabi: “Dulatti” (The Hidden Power) and “Ghasea Hoea Aadmi” (Worn Out Man). In keeping with the Sidhu Program tradition, we honoured a local Punjabi writer at the event, as well as student winners of a Punjabi language essay contest. This year’s winner of the lifetime achievement award for a BC-based Punjabi writer was Nadeem Parmar, a local writer and community historian.
Mr. John was also a key part of a theatrical workshop held prior to the Sidhu program at UBC entitled “Luna’s Voice: Restaging a traditional Punjabi narrative in the Lower Mainland,” which was funded by an Arts-based Workshop grant from the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at UBC. The workshop made it possible to bring together Mr. John, Sohil Bhatia (a performance artist based in New Delhi), and BC-based Punjabi language and/or Punjabi culture based theatre artists to explore ways of reimagining a traditional Punjabi narrative in British Columbia, building on prior reimaginations of the narrative in Punjabi literature.