Jinny has always believed in helping others. Her love for children brought her into the field of Education where she realized how children truly are the product of their environment. Whether they face hunger, poverty, racism, sexism, violence, homophobia and more, she has made advocating for children her life path.
As a first-generation immigrant, she challenged many societal norms of the day including the stigma of cross-cultural marriage and moving into the political arena which was predominantly occupied by men. She was the first woman of colour to be elected as the President of the BC Teachers’ Federation in 2004 representing over 40,000 teachers, and one of only 76 women elected to parliament in the 2011 federal election where she held the seat as NDP MP for Newton-North Delta.
She currently holds the position of BC NDP Member of Legislative Assembly for Surrey-Panorama as Minister of Citizens’ Services, which is both the public face and corporate enabler of provincial government. Through 65 Service BC Centres, the ministry manages government-owned buildings and real estate, procurement, protection of Privacy and Freedom of Information, cyber security, internet connectivity, government information technology services and finding innovative solutions to improve government services to citizens.
Birthplace: Pabwa, Jalandar, Punjab
Immigrated to Canada: Initially, I went to England in 1962, then to Quebec in 1975. In 1977, we came to Nanaimo for a holiday and decided to stay.
Education: Degree in English and History from University of Victoria in Manchester, England.
Currently Reading: I read briefing notes all day. I’m currently re-reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen as this novel is about simple things. Reading fiction helps me reset my brain.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Airline pilot, but I failed the medical exam based on the height test – I wasn’t tall enough and back in those days there were restrictions which today might be considered as Human Rights violations. So, I became a teacher. I love working with kids and it was that love that brought me to politics where I could help build a more just and inclusive society.
What was your toughest professional decision?
To leave teaching and education and go into the political arena. I had to do a lot of soul searching but my family supported me, so I made the jump. I have a firm belief that quality public education is the foundation of our democracy and that every child has the right to an education, so I will always continue to advocate for them.
How do you deal with loss or negativity?
You have to let it roll off your back. I appreciate constructive criticism because I believe in working collaboratively. I know what I’m passionate about – it’s our youth. I stay true to my heart, and genuinely want to help those around me.
What advice would you give your younger self?
There’s a French saying ‘pas des regret’ meaning no regrets. Learn from the wisdom of your family and teachers and live your dreams!
What does the future look like?
I don’t think I will ever retire because I love what I do, and that passion is something that feeds my soul. Life presents many doors; be brave and explore what they hold.