The Story Behind The Ajit Singh Sandhu Memorial Award

Grants & Funding, Stories of Impact

When Ajit Singh Sandhu moved to Canada, he got a job teaching on a First Nations reserve in Northern Quebec. This was his first job in the profession that ultimately became his lifelong passion and resulted in his family emigrating to Canada permanently. 

Sadly, Ajit passed away in 2021 after a decades long teaching career. Over the next year, Bharathi and her family began to look for a way to honour her father’s legacy as an educator. Her father had instilled in her a passion for education and the positive impact that access to an education could have on young people. It’s what he dedicated his career to – helping countless young people succeed, including many Indigenous youth who were his first students in this country. 

The idea of being able to support other young people go into the same profession that her father loved was something that Bharathi and her family were grateful to be in a position to do. They started the process with Abbotsford Community Foundation (ACF) because of Bharathi’s previous experience with the Fraser Valley Indo Canadian Business Association – FVICBA’s – annual scholarships. She saw first-hand how ACF’s Student Award Program offered a seamless process for FVICBA donors to be able to set up their own awards and be included in the process of learning about the student applicants and their stories. Of particular interest was the opportunity to attend convocations and present her father’s award – meeting and talking with the recipients about their hopes and dreams of becoming teachers themselves. 

Believing strongly that ‘money should not be the reason that you’re not furthering your education’, the Sandhu family found the student award making process both empowering and fulfilling. To enable other young people to follow in Ajit’s footsteps and access a post secondary education seemed like something he would have very much appreciated. Their hope is that in giving a hand up to Indigenous youth going into teaching, that those young people, in turn, may wish to pay it forward when they’re able to do so. For this family, it wasn’t just about giving a scholarship but truly honouring the legacy of a loved one.

Thanks to his family, the Ajit Singh Sandhu Memorial Award is one that will stand in perpetuity, honouring Ajit’s passion and dedication for teaching, and given to those young people entering into the profession that was his life’s work. 

Listen to Bharathi as she explains how her dad inspired her to become a Student Award Maker with the Abbotsford Community Foundation.

Learn how you can become a Student Award Maker, too! Please contact our Executive Director, Areni Kelleppan – arenik@abbotsfordcf.org.

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