Mohindar Singh Gill

Mohindar Singh Gill with his wife and their four children. He was involved in the Indian freedom movement before he immigrated to Canada in 1950.

For more than six decades, Mohindar Gill has begun and ended his day the same way. "I shave, shower and then sit, legs folded and pray for 30 minutes, says Gill. That strict discipline has served him well over the years.

He was born in July 1923, in the small farming village of Dhudike, Punjab. One of four siblings, he remembers a carefree childhood filled with school and hockey and football games. "By the time I was born, my dad had leased out the farm so I didn't have to do any chores," he says. "Not that there were jobs then for high-school boys."

At 18, his life was to take a turn. While at University in Moga, he joined the Indian freedom movement. "I was in charge of trying to promote revolution and revolt against the British rule," Mohindar says. A few months later, the British Army charged him with attempting to overthrow the government and he was sentenced to nine months in jail. After five months of incarceration, his father appealed to the high court and Mohindar was acquitted in December 1941.

"While in jail I reflected on my life and decided I should go back to school," he recalls. He went on to acquire two undergraduate degrees before immigrating to Canada on September 18, 1950. Gill had to leave his wife Gurdev and his young daughter behind for six years.

He worked in the accounting department at Pacific Mills and sent money to his young family. Times were lean and even something as small as a 7-Up was a rare treat. In 1955, he received his master's in business administration at the University of Western Ontario. He was soon hired as a CGA by the Civil Service Commission for the federal government. Both as an accounting professional and as a community member, Gill was actively involved in an array of boards, associations and organizations.

He has been a member of the Khalsa Diwan Society since 1959. In 1967, Gill was instrumental in arranging accommodation for hundreds of refugees from Uganda fleeing dictator Idi Amin's regime. Gill has received numerous awards and honours over the years, including the 1992 Governor General's Award for significant contributions to compatriots, community and to Canada.

Meanwhile, he and his wife went on to raise four children: daughters Shinder and Pam and sons Harmel and Gurmail.